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Real estate’s roadmap to pay equity

By Orana Durney-Benson
03 April 2024 | 11 minute read
rebecca kerr reb gghcwg

To reach a 0 per cent gender pay gap, real estate needs to have hard conversations about salary.

In 1969, Australian women first won the right to equal pay for equal work. Yet over 50 years later, Australia is still grappling with a gender pay gap of 19 per cent.

In real estate, this figure is even worse, with women earning only 74.3¢ for every dollar their male colleagues make.

Over the years, a number of initiatives have emerged to try and bridge this gap, from awareness-raising campaigns to Sheryl Sandberg-esque corporate feminism. Several years on, however, these efforts have not proven successful: women continue to face systemic barriers to pay equity that individual efforts to “speak up” cannot erase.

But one real estate brand has a solution. After just three years of monitoring pay data, Little Real Estate has achieved a 0 per cent pay gap.

Their secret is simple: salary bandings.

In a recent episode of REB’s Secrets of the Top 100 Agents, Little Real Estate’s chief operating officer Rebecca Kerr explained: “Everyone knows what’s the range that each role gets paid and what influences where you sit within that range.

“So, for example, for our property managers it’s based on how many properties you manage […] and some of the other variables in that will obviously be your experience and tenure in the industry.”


One of the most powerful benefits of this business strategy is that it does not unfairly advantage team members who are more forthcoming about pay rises.

“We need to ensure we’re not just giving people rises because they’ve got the confidence to ask for it,” explained Kerr.

“We have a lot of high-performing team members who it’s not something they would go out of their way to complain about. You don’t want these people to be underpaid just because they don’t complain; we want them to be fairly renumerated and recognised for the hard work that they do.”

As Kerr noted, preventing an imbalance of underpaid and overpaid worker is crucial because it can have dire follow-on effects.

“It’s quite common in the recruitment process to ask what somebody’s being paid somewhere else and then agreeing to pay the same or better to attract high-performing people to that role,” Kerr said.

“So what we’ve got to be careful of is not replicating the already-ingrained gender imbalances in pay when bringing people into the business.”

One way that Little Real Estate addresses this issue is by requiring their hiring managers to work alongside a national recruitment team who together help reduce the likelihood of unconscious bias.

Another strategy the brand uses is to ensure that strong career progression pathways are available within the company itself, including in fields that are traditionally dominated by women such as property management.

Kerr explained that female property managers “see career potential within the immediate business”.

“We have leadership within property management, but then there’s other roles within the business where they can use their expertise in property management. We’ve got innovation teams, compliance teams. Our head of property services is female, so we’ve got a very strong executive female presence that they can look up to who’ve worked from the ground up.”

According to the CEO, the effort it takes to implement these business strategies is far outweighed by the benefits they bring not only to female workers, but also to the company itself.

“We all know that diversity in leadership is integral in stopping groupthink,” said Kerr. “You won’t get the best decision-making if everyone has the same life experiences.”

Retention rates and company culture have also been significantly improved by these measures.

“When there’s a greater level of transparency, there’s a greater level of accountability on those making those decisions,” said Kerr.

“It’s something that we believe is important in society.”

Listen to the full conversation with Rebecca Kerr here.

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