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International Women’s Day – diversity, going green and equality in property

In the second instalment of our International Women’s Day series, we explore the topic of diversity in property and construction, the increasing number of female investors going green, and a Q&A with Andrea Fawell of housebuilder Kebbell on why the property industry needs more women.

Diversity is still an issue in the construction industry – study

Some 68% of managers within the construction industry believe their sector still struggles with a lack of gender diversity, according to research by recruitment experts Search Consultancy.


The study was conducted with 1,000 managers and asked respondents to rate how they believed their industry compared against a range of diversity markers.

The research also looked into racial and age diversity within businesses across the sectors. Some 56% of managers in the construction industry believed their business lacked racial diversity, with 54% admitting age diversity was an issue.

A vast number (66%) of managers also believe a more diverse workforce would help resolve the skills shortage in the construction industry.

Erin Vickers, director of talent and engagement at Search Consultancy, comments: “Although research shows that 83% of managers in the construction sector believe their industry is suffering from a skills shortage, little is being done to encourage a more diverse workforce and consequently widen the talent pool available.” 

“The benefits of having a diverse team are endless. Looking outside of the typical candidate demographic can help resolve the skills shortage, create a better understanding of customers and significantly improve employer brand.”

She adds: “Now more than ever, it is time to encourage increased diversity in the workplace and help businesses grow following a very difficult 12 months.”

61% of female investors are focusing more on green investment 

The issue of sustainability has grown in importance for 61% of female investors since the coronavirus outbreak, according to an infographic by German company Kryptoszene.

Sustainable investing has become more than a trend, with the majority of investors now believing that ecology and returns are not mutually exclusive.

While an increasing number of women are attaching greater importance to green investment, among men, the figure is less than half (45%).

A look at the issue as perceived by various generations also reveals further differences. Some 25% of millennials would opt for investments that contradict their own views in favour of higher returns.

The older the investor, the more important consistency between investments in their portfolio and their own ethical convictions become. Among investors over the age of 71, just 16% would invest in assets that contradict their beliefs.

Outside of the stock market, more and more people are also adopting a more sustainable approach. Some 42% of German citizens reported actively behaving more sustainably, while another 47% are doing so passively.

Regardless of the growing interest in ecological investments, Kryptoszene says German citizens still see potential for optimisation. The research reveals 66% would be more inclined to make sustainable investments if this were to be subsidised by the state.

Raphael Lulay, analyst at Kryptoszene, says: "The subject of green investment is increasingly relevant. Female investors in particular have been showing real interest. They appear to be on the right track with this strategy, as demonstrated by the price performance of many green stocks".

You can view the infographic in full here. Our recent article on green homes is also available here.

Q&A – why the property industry needs more women

While an estimated 15% of women work in property and construction, 40% of housebuilder Kebbell’s workforce are women.

Andrea Fawell, sales and marketing director of Kebbell, explains what the industry needs to do to attract more women in light of International Women’s Day.

Is there equality in the property industry?

There is much talk in housebuilding that it is women who do the buying and are the decision-makers and facilitators of a home move, so women in the industry are possibly uniquely placed to be the best to understand their needs, wants and desires.

Sadly, whilst there is also inequality, the main problem is diversity because there are so few women working as subcontracted trades, in construction or in the technical department in particular, but also in the boardrooms. It’s a problem and this really is an area where improvements in the industry could and must be made.

Why is diversity in the property workforce so important?

There is an increased appetite for real change, and it has never been so important to get inclusion and diversity in all areas right, to unite us and to promote respect after one of the most difficult years in living history.

Ultimately, different people bring different things to the table. We don’t do well with a linear approach and need a wide range of ideas and experiences. Diversity increases awareness, individuality and curiosity, and leads to better understanding and new ways of thinking. It also creates a healthier working and living environment, prevents bullying and stereotypes and ultimately is good for business.

Is educating at school level the best way to encourage more women into property?

A few years ago, I had a table at a careers day at my daughter’s all-girls school and I went along in my construction kit complete with tool belt and hard hat. No one came to my table to talk to me!

The next time I turned up to talk about interior design and I was flooded with enquiries. On the third occasion, I came to talk about town planning which received a good level of interest. It is incredibly frustrating because jobs in property are often highly-skilled roles and we need women to be actively at the table or on-site.

What was your route into property?

My personal route into property was initially through town planning, as my careers teacher who was also my geography teacher, piqued my interest in the area. In 1987, I worked as a land buyer, but I liked working at a fast pace and so then joined the sales team.

My background in land was very helpful in understanding the relationship between the start of the home building process, in both land buying and the implications of early decisions in design, to the end of the process of actually selling homes. My planning and construction background made me more effective at sales.

How should the property market ensure inclusion for women?

Educating about the huge number of roles that are available in property is key, as well as highlighting what skills suit which jobs. For example, if you are artistic, you may want to consider architecture, strategic - the legal or planning side, mathematical – engineering, practical – the trades and so on.

It is about finding your niche and choosing something that is suited to your skills and that you find interesting. We need more apprenticeships and training roles in every area of the business.

We need to enhance the profiles of women in different roles in property and to include them in the design and implementation of any changes.

We also need to conduct surveys around inclusion within our businesses and senior leadership need to lead conversations around women in property and make an effort to understand the nuances of what different people in the workforce many need.

Is flexibility important?

Flexible roles are sometimes attractive to bring women into the industry but may equally be a factor for men. What the pandemic has taught us is that getting the job done is what is important, flexibility is not detrimental to a business in most cases.

For example, sales in the housing industry are busier at the weekend which could suit women who need flexibility and are interested in a career in that field.

Why is it important for more women to join a traditionally male-dominated industry?

I consulted with many of the women I work with and Clare Clarke, from our customer care department, summed it up well: “A home is not designed or built by one person and it takes a team to bring any project to fruition. A good team is made up of many different skills and therefore many different people.

Women can bring new perspectives and skills such as problem solving and relationship building to ensure that the project is efficient and customer focused.”

Linda Tillisch, our northern sales manager, also said: “A sales role is not without its challenges in a male dominated industry, diplomacy and an ability to smooth ruffled feathers is something most women have learnt to do easily.”

Ultimately, property is a very rewarding business to be in. The camaraderie on-site is amazing and there is something so tangible and fulfilling from buying the land to handing over the keys to someone’s new home. Property is so close to all of our hearts. We all live somewhere. Women certainly need to be better represented in the industry.

Our first instalment of International Women’s Day, featuring trailblazers in construction, can be viewed here.

Poll: Is the property industry doing enough to promote diversity, green issues and equality?



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