Just three women holding executive positions at Britain’s largest listed property groups have profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities, a new survey shared with Property Week reveals.

Women at work

Women at work

Source: Shutterstocl/ Monkey Business Images

Executive recruitment giant Heidrick & Struggles, which surveyed more than 100 bosses and other C-suite executives from property companies, private equity firms and investment management groups, warned of “a concerning trend” in which women in FTSE 350 real estate companies accounted for 19% of executive positions, yet only 2% had P&L duties and therefore any real power.

“We have seen a shift of females on to executive committees and into the boardroom but that doesn’t give them P&L responsibility, and P&L responsibility means you’re really leading and driving the business, as opposed to just influencing it,” said Chantal Clavier, author of the report and head of Heidrick & Struggles’ real estate practice for Europe and Africa.

“If I were the chair of a business and hiring my next chief executive, I’d want to know that my chief executive has had P&L responsibility.”

The survey also revealed that at 23 real estate companies in the FTSE 350, 35% of board positions were filled by women, which is above the 30% index average and a significant improvement on the 23% of positions held by women in 2018.

Yet women are still hard to find in executive positions: they hold only 12% of all the executive roles across the wider FTSE 350.

On race and ethnicity, “the sector has even further to go, as do most other industries”, the report said.

Clavier said one of the most striking findings from her report was that half the real estate leaders that her firm spoke to believed they led a business with an “inclusive culture”.

“It’s clear that more investigation and developmental work is needed within the sector to help leaders understand what ‘inclusive’ truly means and where the industry is falling short,” she said.

Some 79% of leaders said that diversity and inclusion were strategically important to their company, but only a quarter said that they always measured, tracked and held colleagues accountable for keeping it a strategic priority. 

The report said: “Lack of measurement and tracking of data means that companies will find it impossible to monitor progress and identify what needs to be addressed.”

To read the report in full, click here