Georgina Pierson, COO and co-founder of Good2rent– the UK’s number one rental passport
The property industry has notoriously been a man’s world for many years, with stereotypes and a lack of gender diversity aplenty.
However, a new wave of budding young professionals is surging through the ranks of the property industry – and they’re women. With new data indicating that the gap between the number of males and females studying more property focussed subjects, is at its narrowest in a decade, the greatly overdue shift towards equal representation is finally becoming attainable. Whilst the facts and figures show that we are heading in the right direction, our aim now must be to sustain this new wave of gender balance and continually nurture a culture which embraces this newfound diversity.
While change is on the horizon, in order to cultivate this positive transformation, we must assess where the main issues lie in today’s property world. Women are numerous on the ground within the real estate world, but the main inequalities remain evident at the very top. After all, the government is yet to produce a female housing minister – despite the seemingly monthly merry-go-round of ministers in the job. Additionally, a recent survey showed that only 19% of those in board level positions were women.
As women remain underrepresented in the top-level roles, an inevitable repercussion could then be the lack of role models and general incentive for women to enter into this traditionally male dominated space. Therefore, educating females, as well as males, from an earlier age and engaging them by making property a more attractive sector will have a snowball effect. Making all young people aware of their options and how best to utilise their skillset, whether it be in PropTech, as a developer, estate agent or in construction, there really is something for everyone. This focus on awareness can, in turn, bring about a more varied talent pool and oust many inherent, seemingly unshakeable misconceptions. New initiatives such as the Women in Property Student Awards springing up in recent years give budding young women an incentive and platform to celebrate their success. Changes like this hopefully represent a positive shift in the sector, with more talented women coming through the ranks slowly but surely.
This need for diversity stems beyond adhering to employment expectations. It could in fact play a huge part in improving tenant and overall consumer experience. Tenants inevitably spend days, weeks, even months hauling themselves from property to property in search of the perfect home, and as a female searching alone, safety and comfort inevitably becomes a priority. Having another woman on this journey, giving empathetic and relatable guidance which will be naturally, different to that of a male in the very same role, could be a unique and unparalleled addition. At the same time, male tenants may favour a male perspective. Hence, aiming for an equal split of males and females in this sector specifically would give prospective tenants, of any age or gender, options and alternatives should they so desire them, improving customer satisfaction as a result.
The LendInvest Top 25 PropTech Influencer List 2017 speaks for itself when it comes to the current female presence in the PropTech industry. With male influencers nabbing the top 12 positions and only three women making the list. However, there is still time to rectify this in this recently-emerged sector. Due to its infancy, we have the opportunity to work from a relatively blank canvas. It is a new frontier for those in the property industry and we can work from the ground up to create a gender balanced platform and expel the male dominated stereotypes in both the technology and property industry.
The world we live in is more dynamic, varied and open minded than ever before, and whilst there are tangible progressions being made in the property industry, we must now focus on sustaining this equality. With a combination of commitment to cultural and behavioural change at board level and encouragement from a graduate level, we can meet somewhere in the middle and fundamentally create an even more diverse, gender balanced property world. This adaptation, in turn, will inevitably be very good for business. Not only can it massively expand the pool of talent for us to draw on, but it will make us more relatable to our client base too.
About the author
Georgina Pierson is an entrepreneur and technology strategist; her background is in marketing with 20 years’ experience working across a huge variety of brands. She began her career as an advertising graduate at Saatchi & Saatchi before expanding to marketing at Time Inc.
Georgina then moved to NewsUK as Group Head of Retail Partnerships for The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers, before becoming Head of Retail Advertising for NewsUK’s client division.
Georgina has more recently led the marketing effort at online estate agency, Homeseller.com, as Marketing Director, and is now Chief Operating Officer at PropTek, a unique tech company developing exciting proptech brands, including good2rent tenant referencing.