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Women in Property

03 February 2020
Helen Balliger looks ahead to MIPIM 2020 as an opportunity to celebrate women in property.

I am very excited about the upcoming "Women Can(nes)" event that DWF are hosting at MIPIM this year. I have been very fortunate in my career to have lots of support from various mentors (both male and female) but this is sadly not the case for everyone and some people still feel excluded for all sorts of reasons including gender.

It is incredible to think that before the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 women could not enter certain professions (including the law and accountancy) – truly a different time. The steps taken at the beginning of the last century were the start of what we see today, but changing society's mind-set to be more diverse has not evolved quickly. As recently as the 90s, it was frowned upon for female solicitors to wear trousers to work. In fact, at my secondary school (in the 90s!) girls were not allowed to wear trousers as part of the school uniform and I can attest to that being somewhat unfair in the Northern England climate.

There are encouraging statistics showing that women are wanting to, and have the skill set to, enter the professions, for example, an incredible 61% of law graduates are women. However, the media headlines are still highlighting statistics showing that women are not yet making their way to more senior positions:

  1. women are hugely under-represented in senior positions at law firms (for example only around 28% of legal private practice partners are women); and
  2. more than 40 investment trusts have no women on their boards.

There are many complicated reasons as to why women are not making their way up to the top in the same numbers as which they enter the profession. Having balanced representation between men and women at the top levels of all businesses is something that is unlikely to change overnight. However, events such as the Women Can(nes) event gives us all a chance to celebrate what each of us has individually achieved in our careers and to talk about our journeys which has led us to the positions we are in now. Crucially, it gives a platform to consider what we can do to help the upcoming generations of women behind us from being strong role models to giving encouragement when imposter syndrome sets in (to name just a couple).

I think we can all agree that real estate is a fantastic sector to be part of – it is work hard but play hard too and I have made some life-long friends through it. It is for all of us to put real estate's best foot forward to attract and nurture the best talent regardless of how that talent has found its way to the real estate world.