menu

the real estate balance / pwc survey report

1.03.2017

Culture change holds the key to improving gender diversity in the real estate sector - new Real Estate Balance/ PwC report.

  • 80% of women working in real estate surveyed see addressing gender issues as important for job satisfaction, but less than half of men agree
  • 35% of men surveyed believe their company deals extremely well with gender issues, whereas just 11% of women agree
  • When employees were asked what they would like to see introduced to achieve increased gender balance, they put cultural and behavioural change at number one

A new report, ‘The power of real balance: how diversity can transform your real estate business’ from Real Estate Balance and PwC explores gender equality in the real estate industry and introduces a 10 point project plan which outlines some of the priorities that companies can chart their progress against. The report, which compares surveys of 382 employees and 40 company representatives from across the UK real estate sector, highlights the changes that need to happen in order to speed up progress and build on the work already being done to improve employee satisfaction on gender diversity.

The report shows one reason male employees place less emphasis on gender balance is that they have seen their companies launch initiatives and therefore assume the issue is being adequately addressed. The survey also shows employees feel that cultural and behavioural change is key to boosting gender balance, although this is less of a priority in responses from company representatives. Low turnover of senior personnel as well as a perception of a traditional, male culture with inflexible hours is a particular concern for the real estate sector. Although companies have introduced flexible working and diversity and inclusion policies, employee sentiment shows this is not enough. Companies need to make sure their culture reflects these policies and rethink the way that success is judged throughout the business.

Further results show:

  • Companies cite board level commitment as having been most successful in increasing gender balance at senior level.
  • There is limited of diversity in senior level role models and a lack of transparency and succession planning in the promotion process.

The report makes clear that commitment to gender balance cannot stop with senior leaders and the challenge is ensuring all employees understand why gender balance is a business priority, and the individual responsibility they hold to contribute to an inclusive culture.

The report shows that monitoring gender balance at every level in your organisation will help identify the issues most in need of tackling. Regular tracking of progress against relevant targets also enables organisations to gauge whether their approach to increasing gender balance is having an impact, and to look at ways to address this, if not.

Commenting, Vivienne King, Chief Executive, Soho Housing and Chair of Real Estate Balance, said:

“In all parts of our industry, women are better represented than ever before with increased opportunities to achieve senior roles. Nevertheless, with a few notable exceptions, virtually all of the leadership positions are held by men. Real Estate Balance took on the challenge of investigating the issues behind this and developing practical solutions to correct the imbalance and create a more dynamic, representative and robust industry as a result. Working with the Grosvenor Estate and GVA, we surveyed the views of more than 380 people in real estate from 40 different companies. The results of this ground-breaking survey, which we will repeat annually in order to track progress, shatter some of the myths and uncover some illuminating realities that are stalling women in their careers. The very positive response to the survey from the most senior levels in our industry has shown the commitment is there to support female talent on the way to the top and see a real improvement in gender diversity at senior levels"

PwC has taken the outcomes of the survey and worked with Real Estate Balance to develop this report. Commenting, Craig Hughes, PwC global real estate leader and member of the Real Estate Balance management committee, said:

“A gender balanced business is a more effective business. Tackling gender inequality is not just the right thing to do, it makes business sense. Both women and men are beginning to demand flexibility and diversity. It’s vital that leaders set the tone from the top in promoting not only gender balance but an inclusive culture more broadly. This report shows the importance of instilling this message in the daily practices through all levels of an organisation and how the real estate industry can play a vital role in creating a more balanced and inclusive society.”

The report outlines a 10-point project plan to help real estate companies strengthen gender balance in their organisations and realise the benefits.

Committed leadership from the top

1/ Board makes a clear case for gender balance and promotes it within its business plan.

Put equality at the centre of how you attract, nurture and promote talent

2/ Promote relevant role models that ambitious women and men can aspire to be like.

3/ Ensure key talent decisions take full account of gender issues and access the widest pool of talent

Bring the organisation on board and …

4/ Engage with line managers to ensure they understand and buy into the need for change, as well as equipping them with the tools to deliver change.

5/ Encourage employees to speak out about gender issues and ensure reported cases of bias, discrimination and harassment are appropriately investigated and addressed.

Promote agile working and a gender neutral working culture

6/ Ensure flexible working is open to all and isn’t a barrier to promotion.

7/ Ensure client and networking events, conferences and hospitality appeal to both men and women.

Back up the board-level commitment with tracking and intervention

8/ Look at your data to gauge whether there is a reasonable male-female ratio among people being recruited, assigned to the most important projects and moving up into senior management.

9/ Use the data to identify barriers to gender balance that need addressing and track your progress.

10/ Develop procedures for understanding why talented people may not reach their potential or leave, and how these can be addressed.


1. In the latter half of 2016 Real Estate Balance surveyed 382 employees (56% female, 43% male, 1% declined to answer) from different levels of their organisations about their perceptions of gender balance, initiatives to support it and barriers to achieving it within their working lives. Real Estate Balance also surveyed representatives from 40 companies about their policies and initiatives to achieve greater gender balance. The participants are members of Real Estate Balance, a new membership group which brings together a cross section of businesses active within the real estate sector including banks, investment companies, law firms, agents, architects and property companies. Real Estate Balance will continue to conduct this annual survey going forward so we can begin to track progress in our industry.

2. For PwC press enquiries or to request a copy of the final report, please contact Ellie Raven on ellie.raven@pwc.com or +44 (0) 207 804 3663.