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Property sector moves closer to gender equality

By Orana Durney-Benson
22 November 2023 | 11 minute read
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Chief executive officers from 23 of Australia’s top property firms have made significant strides towards creating workplaces free of gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

The Champions of Change Coalition annual impact report for 2023 revealed that 23 leaders across the nation’s property development, construction, investment and real estate agency sectors have taken measures to create safer and fairer workplaces for women.

Since the Champions of Change Coalition was founded by Elizabeth Broderick AO in 2010, leaders from a diverse range of Australian industries have worked towards building more gender-equal and inclusive workplaces.

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Across the 23 member companies – which include Lendlease, Mirvac and Knight Frank, among others – the latest report found that women make up 48.5 per cent of employees, representing gender equality.

For the first time, over 40 per cent of board positions in the member companies are held by women, up from 37.7 per cent the year before.

Women CEOs are also on the rise, with almost 30 per cent of head of business roles now filled by women, up from 24.6 per cent in 2022.

Michael Zorbas, Property Council of Australia chief executive and Champions of Change member, stated that real estate has the potential to become a trailblazer for other Australian industries.

“Property is one of Australia’s largest employers,” Mr Zorbas stated. “It is important to our industry and communities that property leaders are champions of safe and inclusive workplaces.”

One major area of focus for 2023 is addressing workplace sexual harassment. All 23 member organisations have articulated commitment to eradicating sexual harassment with a zero-tolerance policy.

Each of the member organisations has reviewed reporting procedures to ensure that victims of sexual harassment have confidential avenues available.

Phil Rowland, Champions of Change Property convenor and CEO of CBRE, confirmed that “every company in the group has articulated its commitment to eradicating sexual harassment and creating a zero-harm environment”.

“It provides data-driven insights into the progress we’ve made as an industry, allowing us to analyse where we’ve succeeded and, importantly, the areas where we need to sustain our focus for continued improvement,” he said.

Another one of the property group’s core focus area for 2023 is encouraging the equal sharing of unpaid care between all genders.

In 2023, 90.5 per cent of member organisations have a strategy to improve men’s uptake of parental leave, compared to just 66.7 per cent in 2022.

The Champions of Change Property Group’s work is not at an end, with an awareness campaign for gender-based violence scheduled to take place in early December.

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