It is a concept people think they understand, that a good percentage (but arguably not a big enough one) believe in fervently and that depressingly, we are making very little, if any, progress on.
Nope. Not Brexit. Infuriatingly, our politicians continue to hurtle backwards full-throttle on that one. No, I’m talking about the gender pay gap (GPG).
This time last year, we conducted a poll in which 54% of respondents said they felt the industry would only pay lip service to the GPG issue and that there was little prospect of genuine improvement.
So it has transpired. Actually, it is worse than that: we appear to have gone backwards. Of the 18 large property companies Property Week analysed ahead of today’s deadline to report their remuneration data, 10 have seen the median pay gap widen while eight have seen it improve. The gap now stands at a miserable 26.7%, in line with Real Estate Balance’s research earlier this year showing it at 30% – more than double the 14% average recorded across the UK as a whole.
I would like to say I am shocked, but I am not. The harsh truth is that this is an industry that doesn’t have a Scooby-Doo about diversity in the wider sense of the word and is still at the very beginning of the journey when it comes to the basic level of improving gender balance. With so few women in senior positions, how could the gap be anything other than ridiculously wide?
Even so, it is disappointing – actually, I’d go so far as to say disgraceful – that more companies don’t take ownership of the issue. Instead, they resort to weasel words in a shameless attempt to shift the blame and dismiss the disproportionately high number of senior men to women and reverse ratio with junior staff as a “legacy issue” that affects the whole industry and “indeed many other industries”.
Err, no it doesn’t – not to the same degree as it does property, anyway. Even if it did, that doesn’t excuse the appalling lack of progress in addressing this supposed legacy issue. It is simply not enough to boast, as some do, that in terms of equal pay, men and women in the same roles are paid more or less the same. That’s a cop out; a token gender gesture.
I wouldn’t want to see the industry go so far as ‘do a Radio 2’ (where pretty much all the prime-time DJs are now women), but the industry needs to shape up – or people will ship out to other more diverse and inclusive industries where they stand a chance not just of getting equal pay but equally senior positions. Only then will the industry truly start to make progress.
One sector that definitely needs more women (not to mention more people from different ethnic backgrounds, the LGBT community and different social backgrounds) is the industrial sector. Having put together what is easily the best agenda to date for our Industrial & Logistics Conference & Showcase, which takes place at the Hilton London Syon Park on 8-9 May, we are now assembling an equally brilliant – and hopefully diverse – line-up of speakers. If you want to join us as a speaker or delegate, contact us at industrial.propertyweek.com. But be quick – places are going fast…