Female representation at board level in real estate stands at a staggeringly low 22%. Following a UK trend, this suggests a lack of female entrepreneurs within the sector.
In 2018, the government-led Rose Review found that the advancement of female entrepreneurs could be worth £250bn to the UK economy. Four years later, female entrepreneurs are only contributing around a quarter of that figure, which indicates that there are still too few women heading up businesses. Only 16% of SMEs were found to be female-led in 2020.
In 2019, a report stated that 74% of working caregivers are women. Start-up businesses take an extraordinary amount of time and work to launch. For the working female caregiver, putting in more hours is often not an option, hence adequate funding for childcare provision could be invaluable.
Funding is also an issue for female-led SMEs. A report found that only 9% of start-up funding went into women-led SMEs. Many start-up founders do not have savings to get off the ground and are reliant on funds and grants. Women are often, therefore, starting businesses with less capital than men. Private investment is a potential solution. It is clear the government needs a firmer handle on how to fund female-led SMEs. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work.
Women still fight against gender bias and stereotypes, although there is work being done to disrupt that. Women in boardrooms are less likely to sell themselves regardless of their expertise. Recruitment firms such as Madison Berkeley work with them, encouraging them to confidently share their wins. Women sometimes appear to need extra help in navigating often male-led boardrooms or panels within the real estate sector. Change is afoot, though – within the first two years of Madison Berkeley trading, 50% of our placements were female in an industry with just 14% female representation.
Going forward, the industry needs more investment in female-led startups to economically benefit the country. Educating young women on how to seek out opportunity is paramount to this.
Nina Zeilerbauer is co-founder of Madison Berkeley