The theme for International Women’s Day this year centered around ‘Embracing Equity’, a campaign aimed to get the world talking about why equal opportunities aren’t enough. It is a day to reflect on the progress that has been made in the fight for gender equality, whilst also acknowledging the work that still needs to be done.
The tech industry has always been male dominated, with women still only representing about 26.7% of the workforce, a number that has unfortunately decreased over the last two years. This year, to celebrate International Women’s Day, LMRE had the pleasure of joining the Women in PropTech & Property Breakfast, hosted by PropTech1 and UKPA, an event focused on the inspiring success stories from Women in PropTech and Property and their male allies, who have managed to create an inclusive work environment for both genders to succeed and develop. Despite there only being about 15% of women GPs in venture in Europe, PT1 has a female managing partner and a near gender equal senior team too, with UKPA and LMRE both also having a strong female led management team.
The event was an opportunity for women in the industry to come together, contribute their story and share their experiences of being female in such a male-dominated space, discussing a range of topics from career progression, transparency, and equality in pay, to the importance of diversity and inclusion of thought.
Diversity and Inclusion of Thought
The consensus amongst the table was that diversity and inclusion of thought must start from the top, where there needs to be equal representation of men and women to avoid unconscious bias in the workplace, from the hiring process through to promotions. The lack of female representation in the space, specifically in leadership and senior management positions, has created barriers for women in the industry, disincentivising them to strive for promotions and opportunities in career growth.
The lack of female PropTech founders (only around 10% of PropTech founders are women) and paucity of funding towards companies with female leadership (female founders get 157 times less funding than men) ensures that the industry remains where it is. To progress, the industry needs women to fill these leadership and senior management roles, giving them a seat at the table where they can share their experience of being a female in a male-heavy industry, offer advise on how we can progress, and be the voice of women in the space who are not otherwise being heard.
With a male-to-female ratio of 12:1, how can the PropTech sector expect women to join, grow and thrive in an industry whose structure and composition centers around men? Part of the women’s breakfast discussion focused on the reintegration for women back into the workforce after being on maternity leave. It became clear that there is a lack of initiatives to support women returning to work after a period of parental leave, from unequal pay (with the majority of the paycheck going towards childcare) to missed opportunities in promotions. Unfortunately, the working environment does not always accommodate for working mothers, and without a strong female leader who can encourage and promote a culture of inclusivity, there is little chance of this changing.
To put this into perspective, statistics show that women would have needed to work 36 extra days to earn the same as men in 2020, which accounts for nearly 900 extra hours a year. Whether this is due to there being a lack of women in high-earning leadership roles (only 1 in 20 CEOs are women) or women are simply not being valued as highly as men in the workplace, either option attributes to the wider issue of gender inequality that is still prevalent today.
Recruitment and Hiring
The discussion moved on to unconscious bias in hiring and where it currently sits in the industry. Unconscious bias is when we make judgments or decisions based on our prior experience, our own personal deep-seated thought patterns, assumptions, or interpretations, and we are not aware that we are doing it. The fact that women in the industry struggle to get promotions, equal pay and leadership roles are a few examples of how unconscious bias prevents progress, and again, this can only be changed if women are given the opportunity for leadership, management and overall career progression.
Recruitment businesses can play a key role in promoting DEI by ensuring that our recruitment processes are fair, transparent and inclusive. Recruiters can use their platform to communicate with clients on their hiring processes, how they can build a continuous DEI improvement approach and avoid unconscious bias in their workplace. After sharing their experiences and what they have seen in the PropTech & Property industry, it became clear from the discussion that DEI needs to start at the beginning of any business.
The Next Step
These conversations and networking events offer women the opportunity to share their experiences amongst others with similar stories, providing them with a voice that often goes unheard in industries that are male dominated. For the industry to progress, we need more women in leadership and management positions where they can use their power to inspire and encourage other women to join the space, as well as influence existing policies and shape new ones to ensure they are tailored towards women’s needs. We need to encourage more women and girls to study STEM subjects at school and university and educate parents in how to ensure their children follow their interests and passions without being influenced by gender stereotyped career paths.
This event by PT1- PropTech1 Ventures and UKPA was a great opportunity to connect inspiring women and men in the PropTech, Property and finance space to share their stories, experiences and thoughts to better understand and learn what needs to be done in order for the industry to properly Embrace Equity.
Hosted by Tzvete Doncheva, PT1, Sammy Pahal, UKPA; with the support of Shweta Menon, UKPA.
Forbes; Angelica Krystle Donati, ‘What’s The Deal With Women In PropTech?’ (14th April 2019)
IG, Anzél Killian; ‘Top female CEOs in the UK in 2020’ (18th March 2020)
Interflora; ‘Empower flowers – gender inequality bouquets highlight shocking statistics’ (22nd February 2021)
LMRE; ‘Challenges for Women in PropTech, and How your Organisation can Change it’ (28th June 2022).
LMRE; ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Built Environment’ (15th February 2023)
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