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Gender wage gap revealed: How does real estate stack up?

By Juliet Helmke
28 February 2024 | 11 minute read
gender balance reb rviyes

For the first time, Australian companies with more than 100 employees have publicly published their gender wage gaps. Here’s what was revealed about real estate’s major players.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has been publishing aggregate and industry-specific data collected from Australia’s large enterprises for 10 years. A new pay transparency law passed last year has meant that now, the WGEA can put names to the data.

In the real estate sector, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all the industry’s biggest brands have opened their books. The franchise nature of most real estate networks is structured so that big-name networks are made up of one corporate entity and then many individual businesses with whom they have struck licensing deals. In short, some of Australia’s biggest real estate firms do not employ over 100 people in the traditional sense.

In addition, compliance of reporting is hard to track and to enforce. WGEA keeps a public list of non-compliant firms, but acknowledges that it’s incomplete for many reasons.

What can be gleaned from the data, however, is that the gender wage gap certainly still exists in real estate.

Of the firms that fall into the property operators and real estate services sector, the median total remuneration pay gap is 25.7 per cent – meaning women are earning 74.3 cents for every dollar made by their male colleagues. The nation’s median remuneration gap is 19 per cent. In real estate, the median base salary gap is 19.2 per cent, indicating that male remuneration generally increases by a larger amount when considering bonuses, commission, overtime and other additional payments. Nationally it comes in at 14.5 per cent.

Median versus average

While individual companies are not yet required to disclose their average remuneration figures (that’s in the next phase of changes), WGEA does report this data from an industry perspective.

Median remuneration is considered to be indicative of the typical employee’s remuneration, not skewed by exceptionally high or low salaries, while the average is a good measure of the collective remuneration of a group and will show if earnings are particularly concentrated for one gender.

For real estate, the average remuneration wage gap between men and women jumps up to 33.6 per cent, significantly above the national average of 21 per cent. What this jump in average earnings reveals is that while the industry at large is almost evenly split between men and women – the total workforce is 52 per cent female and 48 per cent male – that’s not the case in the boardroom.

Other figures bear this out, showing that the highest quartile of earners (who make on average $313,000 per year) women comprise 34 per cent of workers, while men are 66 per cent. This, however, is quite similar to the broader country statistics, where women comprise 35 per cent of upper quartile earners and men make up 65 per cent.

Company results

Digging into individual firms’ data, its unsurprising that many of the biggest entities closely track with the industry benchmarks – though numerous companies affirmed that they are putting measures in place to actively reduce the cap. WGEA characterises an “optimal” gap of +/- 5 per cent.

Colliers reported a median total remuneration pay gap of 34.9 per cent. Australian CEO Malcom Tyson noted in a statement to WGEA that the firm hopes to achieve a 40 per cent female share of total employees globally by 2025, and in management roles by 2030.

Cushman & Wakefield came in at 15 per cent, while Savills was at 39 per cent.

On the proptech front, Domain reported a median total remuneration gap of 18.3 per cent. REA Group came in at 12.8 per cent, with the company further affirming in a statement to WGEA that it was working to “achieve greater gender balance at all levels of the
organisation”.

Hub Australia hit WGEA’s target range squarely in the middle, with a median gender pay gap for total remuneration of -0.9 per cent. Little Real Estate came in squarely even at 0 per cent.

Ray White also provided a statement asserting its commitment to creating a diverse work environment, but noted that lowering its median total remuneration gender pay gap of 40.6 per cent would be difficult due to the constraints on the composition of those in leadership.

“The Ray White Group is a family business, and all members of the board are family members and the chief financial officer. Given that all family members that are active in the business are male, the board is 100 per cent male,” the firm explained.

In the statement, which noted five of the top 24 top executives are female, Ray White’s managing director Dan White assured that the board composition does not mean that women are left out of decision-making.

“The important day-to-day decisions which impact the business, our people and our members are not made at board level; they are made by the market CEOs and the rest of the senior leadership team situated in the business,” he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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