Each national chair of Women in Property has just a year to make their mark and latest incumbent Monica Green, who took up the post this month, has hit the ground running.
As founder and owner of York-based PR and communications agency The Partners Group, she is no stranger to juggling responsibilities and hopes to change the industry’s attitudes to flexible working in particular. Property Week caught up with her to discuss her plans for the year ahead.
What does a day in the life of the national chair of Women in Property look like?
It could involve anything from speaking on panels, attending industry events, meeting senior industry figures, visiting the Women in Property network, commenting to industry media…and squeezing in the day job.
What do you want to achieve as national chair?
I’d like to grow the work Women in Property is doing to address workplace issues including flexible working patterns, supporting women returners and mental wellbeing.
As a small business owner, I understand how hard it is to attract and retain good people and I’ve experienced the benefits of being a flexible employer. Greater flexibility generates two-way loyalty and commitment, helps with staff retention and recruitment and sustains a work-life balance that can lead to a happy, healthy workforce.
How do you think the gender imbalance in the real estate sector can be fixed?
There are three different points here. First, get them while they’re young – encourage girls from a very young age to ‘think construction’ and get excited about its possibilities; this means school outreach work and more imaginative careers advice.
Second, and related to the first point, give them more role models. Let youngsters see people that look like them making a success in the industry – and here I am including gender, ethnicity, class, disability and sexual orientation.
And third, keep working at the mid-career issue, when we lose so many talented women because of issues with work-life balance.
What would you say to women considering a career in property but put off by the gender imbalance?
It’s true that some roles in property and construction are still male-dominated, which may put off some women, and potentially men and minority groups too! I’d encourage people to go for their dream job and play a part in effecting change.
We always need pioneers, role models and trailblazers or the world would stand still. I’d also appeal to employers to recognise that greater diversity creates a more agile workforce that makes better business decisions and embraces innovation and change. In our experience at Women in Property, the issue isn’t necessarily the lack of female candidates at graduate or entry level; it’s the high drop-out rate mid-career.
More flexible working can help to retain men and women who want to achieve a more even work-life balance when they may have care commitments with children or elderly parents.
What can men in property do to help?
We are so encouraged by the support, leadership and direction given by very many of our male colleagues in encouraging parity in the workplace. The majority of industry firms are still headed by men so having their endorsement is critical, influencing from the top down, providing this is based on merit and not a ‘tick-box’ exercise.
It includes putting female colleagues forward to speak at a conference or on a panel, rather than going for the default, male position, and remembering that the more employers offer loyalty, commitment and flexibility, the more they will get back from their team.
How has Women in Property helped you in your career?
Being a member of Women in Property has grown my network of contacts and raised my profile. It has also supported my personal and professional development skills and contributed to my effectiveness as a business leader and employer. It’s also been great fun and I’ve formed some good friendships.
What are you looking forward to most during your time as national chair?
I’m looking forward to making a difference, changing some attitudes to diversity and flexible working, and seeing the organisation thrive.