Women in Real Estate: Empowering Change

Sukhdeep Aurora, Chief People Officer


A decade ago, if we were to talk about buying a property either residential or commercial or just about investing in real estate in India, people would say “Ya I have this broker” or “Oh that GUY who is a broker”. For the longest time, the real estate industry has been male-dominated. Barring a few labourers at construction sites, you would always find men whether it was sales agents, channel partners, business leads, etc.

Not anymore!

Today every report from every trade analyst suggests that gender diversification in the sector is taking place at a fast pace. From property consultants, channel partners, and agents; to leading multinational real estate development firms, women are at the forefront of the Indian real estate sector to scale new heights and are taking up more active roles. With India entering a new era of economic growth, Indian real estate which contributes 6% to the national GDP, has become the country’s second-largest employer, and 23% are women (as per the recent CREDAI report).

Why weren’t women keen on real estate?

Was it not an attractive sector earlier? Was it not lucrative financially? Was it because it was unorganized and a bit unstructured? Was it the opaqueness and stigma attached to the sector? Was it the physical conditions that made it difficult? It was probably a combination of all, but now things have changed. Women are rapidly changing this stereotype, whether it’s being part of departments like Strategy, Sales, Marketing, HR etc., women are sitting at the table and making decisions, raising capital and instrumenting mergers and acquisitions and impacting positively the success of   their organizations,

So what brought this change?

Over the years, corporatization of the sector has brought in a lot of professionalism; in addition, with RERA regulations, technology, training and skill development, international best practices and many other factors, the perception of the real estate industry is changing rapidly.

Another driving force behind the increasing number of women in real estate is the growing emphasis on education and skill development. Women are pursuing degrees and certifications in fields such as finance, architecture, urban planning, and business administration, thus, empowering themselves with the knowledge needed to thrive in the competitive real estate landscape.

NAREDCO, which is one of the well-known autonomous bodies for Indian real estate, has a separate Women’s Wing which is extremely active.

Women are also increasingly becoming a key homebuying segment in India. When our in-house Research team launched a consumer sentiment survey their data showed that women accounted for 30–35% of homebuyers in India in 2019. As per another research 65% of women prefer investing in real estate over gold or stocks. It clearly shows the increasing role being played by women in this sector.

Gender disparity

As I mentioned earlier, for ages, this industry has been male-dominated, but there is a key role that the employer plays in eliminating gender bias whether it is in recruitment, promotion, performance evaluation processes or compensation. This includes ensuring that job descriptions are gender-neutral, establishing clear criteria for promotions, and providing fair and unbiased evaluations of employee performance. All dominant players in the industry should establish diversity and inclusion policies including working towards higher representation of women in leadership positions and eliminating pay disparities between men and women by conducting regular pay audits and ensuring that pay is based on performance rather than gender. Implementing initiatives towards ensuring physical and mental safety standards, mentorship programs, encouraging role modelling by women leaders, and bringing in flexibility in the workplace will go a long way in building a gender-diverse workforce.

In fact, at ANAROCK, we have always focused on gender diversity and inclusion. Over six years and with 2200+ employees, we have a female workforce of 25.5%, and 20% of leadership roles in the Company are held by women. We are surely hoping to increase this to 30% in the next few years. What has helped us is a structured approach driven by tracking of key metrics like % age of women in new hires and leavers, % age of women in leadership roles, women engagement scores, %age of women promotions, average pay increase of women versus men and participation of women in career development programs.

Why do we need more women to join the industry?

Women are the largest representation of diversity. They are the perfect blend of compassion, awareness, assertiveness, and determination in various segments of the sector, which is one of the major reasons for the recognition of female potential in this field. But the biggest reason, as reiterated in McKinsey survey reports, is that having more women in the workforce and more in decision-making roles is “good for business”. Organizations that have a diverse workforce have shown themselves to be high on innovation with a higher ability to understand the diverse needs of their customers which finally translates into higher financial performance.

The Real Estate industry has quintessentially been a masculine landscape where women have significantly remained unrepresented. But as more and more women are entering the world of property, they are bringing fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and a determination to succeed.

Women are breaking down barriers and making their mark in every aspect of the industry. The growth is not only restricted to their own career, but they are paying it forward by actively participating in mentorship programs and fostering networks to support the next generation of female professionals, enabling them to gain more insights, guidance and encouragement.

My take

Like every other profession, women are making their presence felt in the real estate sector too. It is not only contributing to gender diversity but also providing a doubling of the talent pool for companies to hire from.

So, ladies, go ahead and make that choice! It’s time to skill up whether in strategy, marketing, real estate consulting, property management, design, finance, administration, sales, project management, and development or audit; the list goes on.

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