Executive Women in Real Estate - Franco

Women in
Real Estate
A framework for
Edited: March 2015
Based on the Women in Real Estate Workshop
and Conference - Paris March 2014
In partnership with
Leading the Franco-British Business Community in France
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
Leading the Franco-British Business Community in France
About the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FBCCI)
Founded in 1873 and with a membership network of over 700 companies,
the Chamber’s objective is to lead the Franco-British business community in
Its key objectives are:
•To promote business and trade between the UK and France
•To drive and support the interests of the Franco-British business community
•To help its members to promote and develop their business in France and/
or in the UK
•To provide members with information and expertise via its network of specialists
WWIRE has 1550 members and first gathered in Paris in October 2012.
Members come from over 40 countries. Meetings have been held throughout
Europe: Paris, London, Vienna, Madrid, Cannes, Munich, Lisbon, and Bratislava as well as Montreal.
WWIRE is a community that encourages WORLD WOMEN IN REAL ESTATE to
help each other and create an impact––so that we, as women, can help
society to evolve more fully to recognize the contributions and multidimensional aspects of women.
WWIRE will pave the way for women to be successful participants and leaders in the political, professional and corporate real estate world.
WWIRE is also helping promote the real estate profession in secondary and
business schools to attract leaders who will contribute to the responsibility
towards the community and environment, both ecological and social.
We organize seminars, networking events, and technical workshops to give
professionals the contacts, knowledge, and skill set necessary for a successful career in real estate. We also give women access to inspiration from outstanding female peers.
For more information: http://www.wwire.eu/
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
About DAREto
DAREto is an innovative consulting firm specialised in diversity and professional equality.
We are convinced that diversity is key for the success of today’s and tomorrow’s organisations.
We accompany the organisations and the individuals to believe in their potential and to develop it through concrete, pragmatic and long-lasting solutions.
Our ambition is to bring our clients towards equilibrium, openness and excellence. We are focused on developing softs skills and driving motivation in
order to address their strategic challenges.
Our exclusively designed training programmes, coaching sessions and
workshops provide the participants with the required tools to develop their
leadership, management, confidence, executive communication and public speaking skills to optimise their individual performance and maximise
their organisational impact.
DAREto believe you can make a difference! Discover our innovative concept,
our international expertise and our multicultural approach.
For more information: http://dareto.fr/
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
1. Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2. Objectives. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
3. Women in business: French and British perspectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
i. A UK Perspective: Cranfield Business School
ii. A Comparative Perspective: Guy Le Péchon
4. Real Estate Industry: feedback from annual event . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
4.1 What has helped women succeed in their career?
4.2 What are the key issues that need to be addressed?
5. Recommendations from industry leaders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
5.1 Their learning on the road – practical advice
5.2 Key actions to develop female employees
6. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
7. The authors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
8. References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
1. Executive Summary
In 2014, as part of the Franco British Chamber of Commerce and British Embassy’s Women’s Day, a workshop
on Women in Real Estate was held at the Cercle de
l’Union Interalliée. Its aim was to encourage women
to exchange their corporate business experience and
highlight the key changes in the Real Estate industry to
help women to succeed and take wider roles in management and leadership. With this information and a set of interviews from influential
women, the committee has created a whitepaper to underline the need for action
and to address the next steps as well as make recommendations.
The workshop feedback from the delegates was centred on six fundamental themes
that were seen as crucial in professional career success:
Confidence, training, flexibility, networking, intercultural understanding & passion.
The key recommendations are as follows:
1. Internal Communication: The need for active cross-functional communications
Many delegates criticised the quality and process of communication at the heart of
their organisation. Their views and ideas typically stopped at the departmental level
and were not conveyed higher or more widely in the structure. Working horizontally
would occur where the superior was seen as a partner more than a boss and sole
decision maker. This alternative approach is only possible where the management
is prepared to accept challenge and is open to ideas and suggestions. In such a
cross-functional communication structure, an organisation naturally will encourage
and develop more communications across the organisation, which are always beneficial.
2. Equality of pay needs women to be more engaged in the salary debate
The participants were concerned by “the veneer of diversity”. While it is clear the general behaviour and thinking has changed for the better, the delegates were equally
concerned that the more open and modern approach was often decried and poorly
accepted by middle and senior management. By introducing mentoring and coaching, more and more women dared to challenge and ask for parity of pay.
3. Human Resource management: a listening and mentoring approach is key
Clearly, the HR department has a fundamental and crucial role to play in improvement at the heart of an organisation. Many of the replies focused on the question
of “flexibility”. By encouraging flexible working, it is possible to improve the working
conditions for women and help their career progress. The emphasis should be on training and mentoring; these two methods enable individuals to reach their potential
more quickly and allow for the HR department to be able to deliver higher performance individuals better adapted to the rigours of business life. Having a management which listens to staff and which understands the problems of its teams, enables
better working conditions and an improvement in the general atmosphere in the working environment.
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
On behalf of the CEDAW* Committee, but also as a member of
Parliament, I would like to thank and to congratulate the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry for its commitment and the great signal it sends to all women.
While remaining the main victims of violence, conflict and suffering, women nevertheless are the main force of sustainable development and peace.
Here in Europe and especially within the excellent partnership
between France and the UK, our responsibility is to prove that
women’s rights are not only a social issue, but also a substantial condition of dignity,
empowerment and sustainable growth. We need to take a new step to reinforce the
empowerment of women in all fields of the economy, to show that we are keenly
aware of the nexus between development and women’s rights.
This means that we must strengthen our focus, our strategy and our priority target
areas to reach concrete objectives of continued progress in improving the role of
women in society. I am confident that in cooperation with the Franco-British Chamber
of Commerce and Industry we can push for change.
Nicole Ameline
UN Chairperson CEDAW
Deputy Calvados
Member of the UMP
Vice President of the Regional Council of Basse Normandie
*CEDAW: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
From the President of the FBCCI
I am delighted that the FBCCI, WWIRE and DAREto have conducted this study of women in a specific industry sector in order to
learn from the success of women who have made it to the top
and from young aspiring leaders who are just starting out on their
Despite the continued progress towards gender parity on corporate boards across Europe and the growing appreciation of the
important role of women in all aspects of the corporate world, there is still a “glass
ceiling” for many women. The role of women in the workplace has always raised a
dilemma for men in any management position who want to ensure equality and yet
still make many recruitment decisions based on emotional rather than rational information. In certain industries, the number of women in management positions and
in the boardroom is better than others; we need to encourage all industries and all
companies, whatever their size, to embrace equality.
This study focuses on the world of “women in real estate”, which is an industry traditionally run by men and which today, in certain companies, is already leading the way
towards both parity at the board level and across the management layers.
The key findings are that the responsibility falls on both the men and women to build
the environment that will lead to parity and that the role of the Industry and Government is also key.
I hope that you will read this report, adopt some of its recommendations and review
your actions with a new perspective.
From Janicka Bassis
W.W.I.R.E. stands for World Women in Real Estate, and true to its
name, it is a group for young, talented and independent women in the world of Real Estate. The group aims to break ground
between women who have common professional interests by
creating mutually beneficial alliances and having fun at the same
time. At W.W.I.R.E. the industry new-entrants might also find mentors providing expert advice and tips, therefore promoting growth
and friendship.
Collaboratively, we organized the roundtable and workshop that was the seminal
event to produce this whitepaper on the state of women in executive positions in
corporate real estate in Europe. I look forward to our next event and to promoting our
findings such as you will read on the following pages.
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
From Robert James Oliver
In 2012, at a 4th of July party held at the 7th arrondissement
Mayor’s office complex in Paris, two friends of mine asked me to
plan a conference on ‘European Women in Real Estate’, as they
thought that women were severely under-represented in the executive suites and boardrooms of French real estate companies.
They did not know that I was a former Professor of Finance at Stern
College for Women in New York City and that this was an issue that
I believe in. My 30 year international real estate career and university teaching left me well equipped to stage such a roundtable discussion.
I assembled a planning committee which included Janicka Bassis. I asked her if there
was a professional organization representing European women in real estate and she
said “no”, but she then founded WWIRE. We expanded our committee to allow us to
go beyond a roundtable discussion and produce a whitepaper on our findings. Following are our results and I hope you enjoy reading them!
From Claudia Garcia,
Founder and CEO of DAREto
I’m extremely proud that DAREto got the invitation to build this
partnership with the FBCCI and WWIRE. At DAREto, we know that
the companies which value diversity and professional equality improve their productivity, their brand and their influence, increase
the motivation of their employees, and ultimately allow both women and men to reach greater levels of fulfilment. Being part of
the steering committee of this cutting-edge project, conceive and
implement the event’s workshop and work with very talented professionals, share our team knowledge and experience, to ultimately publish this whitepaper, has been a gratifying experience. The aim of our study is to share with you precious quantitative and qualitative information to better understand the progression
and future challenges for professional equality and diversity in the Real Estate industry.
In the following pages, you will also find practical recommendations on what can be
implemented to allow women to succeed in their career and therefore improve your
organization. I hope you will find this work useful for you and your teams.
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
2. Objectives
a) Increase awareness on the advancement of women on company boards and
improvement on gender equality through a qualitative and quantitative analysis
for both French and British corporations.
b) A
llow women to exchange their corporate business experience and highlight the
key challenges they want to see in the Real Estate industry for the coming years.
c) Help women to succeed and take wider roles in management and leadership by
networking and collaborating through collective intelligence workshops.
d) Collect information from several sources, including a set of interviews with influential women in Real Estate, present our results and extend recommendations to
both, Industry and Government entities.
3. Women in business:
French and British perspective
Two different approaches, positive results for both
Great progress towards equality in the workplace has been made by both Britain and
France over the past few years. With very different approaches, France and the UK
can proudly show, that on average, they have increased their percentage of women
on boards. The differences we see point to the fact that large corporations are ahead
of the game but that “Mid-sized caps”, the French PME and British SME, have a long
way to go to achieve the type of equality we would like to see.
There is much more to do and we look to Industry and the Government to help continue this approach.
i. A UK Perspective: Cranfield Business School
The International Centre for Women Leaders at Cranfield University School of Management has been producing annual studies on Women on Boards in the UK for many
years. Conclusions published in the latest Female FTSE Report 20141 are encouraging:
Executive Summary
This year we have three major breakthroughs on FTSE 100 boards: the percentage
of women in them has broken the 20% level (20.7%), the number of women on them
has exceeded the 200 mark (205), and the number of all male boards has dropped
to two.
- Source: Vinnicombe, Doldor and Turner, Female FTSE Report 2014 (pp.4), Cranfield University School of Management
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
In the past 6 months, the pace of change in appointing women to FTSE 100 boards
has increased to 35.5% on FTSE 100 and 33.3% on FTSE 250 boards. Turnover on FTSE 100
boards has risen to the 2012 level of 17% and on that basis our trajectory shows that
we should reach 26.7% women on boards by 31 December 2015. Calculating our trajectory on 14% turnover (average pre 2011 turnover) we should still reach the Davies
target by 31 December 2015 (25.13%).
FTSE 100
In the FTSE 100, at the top of this year’s rankings are Diageo and Capita with 44.4%
women directors. There are five new entries in the top ten ranking companies: Royal
Mail (a new entry to FTSE 100), Unilever, SSE, WPP and Intercontinental Hotels Group.
Altogether, 36 companies in the FTSE 100 have reached the 25% target. Again this
year, there is a connection between the percentage of women on corporate boards
and the percentage of women on the Executive Committee, indicating a shared
mindset on gender diversity by chairman and CEOs.
FTSE 250
Among the FTSE 250 companies, 202 now have women on their boards. The percentage of women on FTSE 250 boards has increased to 15.6% from 13.3% in 2013. Altogether, 51 companies in the FTSE 250 now have at least 25% women on their boards.
The 2014 report2 tracks the likely continued trend of more women on the FTSE Boards
to both reach the Lord Davies’ target of 25% by December 2015 and to achieve over
30% female board membership by 2020. This trend will rely on continued pressure and
concrete action by management. See Figure 1:
- Source :Vinnicombe, Doldor and Turner, Female FTSE Report 2014 (pp.22), Cranfield University School of Management
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
The projections in this trajectory are based on the following assumptions:
• That the number of board seats remains constant
• That one third of new board appointments go to women
• That the male/female split coming off boards mirrors the male/female split six years
prior, given the average tenure for directorships is just under six years.
It is important to bear in mind that actual future trends might not entirely confirm these
assumptions. For this trajectory to be established or surpassed, companies need to
consider the five strategies highlighted in this report and summarized in section 6.
In conclusion, the report identifies 6 key recommendations for developing female
talent. These resonate with the conclusions of this whitepaper and underline our need
to focus on active measures to increase diversity in leadership teams across all industries. See section 5.73:
5.7 Recommendations for Developing Female Talent
Our interviews with leading talent management professionals revealed a wealth
of good practices in terms of developing female talent. Such practices are critical
in creating a sustainable pipeline of female talent that will enable us to cross and
move beyond the ‘finish line’ of 25% women on FTSE boards. In light of the interviews
conducted, and the available research on talent management, we conclude by
highlighting key principles and practices that seem particularly effective in pulling top
female talent to the top.
ake diversity an explicit focus of talent management processes. Granular gender metrics are critical in diagnosing the strengths and blockages in the pipeline of
female talent. Aspirational gender targets need to be engrained in specific talent
management processes.
old senior leaders accountable for supporting women’s careers. Creating opportunities for talented women should be a standard of good leadership, translated into
specific performance targets and linked to remuneration.
• T ranslate unconscious bias training into practice by challenging gendered assumptions on an on-going basis in the enactment of all talent management processes.
Gender bias cannot be systematically tackled only by delivering unconscious bias
training to individual managers.
urture female talent through leadership development programmes. Effective programmes enable women to develop leadership self-efficacy and find an authentic
leadership style, but also to engage with their mentors and sponsors.
ake female talent visible through sponsorship, mentoring and exposure to senior
leaders, to ensure that women are ‘on the radar’ of key decision makers. Powerful sponsors are critical in accelerating women’s careers; sponsorship for women
should be further enabled.
• Adopt a holistic approach and embed conversations about female talent in on
going processes, as opposed to addressing female talent only in annual reviews.
- Source: Vinnicombe, Doldor and Turner, Female FTSE Report 2014 (pp.40), Cranfield University School of Management
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
ii. A Comparative Perspective: Guy Le Péchon
Guy Le Péchon, is Partner and CEO of the Corporate Governance consulting firm
“Gouvernance & Structures” (G & S ). Since 2008, he has performed parity research
on Euronext Paris quoted companies. Here are some of his findings:
Today the active promotion of women at high levels of business responsibilities, especially within the Boards, comes from two complementary global views:
Women and men, similarly qualified, should be offered equal opportunities
More women at top positions lead to better business results.
Prior to 2008, various international studies have shown that progression to reach more
parity within boards was very slow. To accelerate the process, countries started to be
much more proactive in setting goals and targets. Each country has followed a different path depending on its basic cultural environment.
Spain, (without strict quotas), and Norway (with very strict ones), have been leading
the “hard law” way followed by France. The January 2011 French law set ambitious
objectives for Euronext quoted companies: 20 % of board positions should be occupied by women by 2014 and 40% by 2017. This 40 % target for 2017 also applies to
the Sociétés Anonymes with at least 500 employees and annual revenues or total
balance sheet assets of more than 50 Millions euros. Today, UK quoted companies
are moving towards a voluntary goal set by Lord Davies to reach the 25 % of board
positions held by women by 2015.
Two studies have performed deep annual statistical studies of the progress, Cranfield
University School of Management (CMS) for UK FTSE 100 and 250, and Gouvernance
& Structures (GS) for Euronext Paris Big Caps and Mid + small caps. For references,
please refer to the end of this document.
G&S thought it could be quite interesting to position on the same graphs the 2012,
2013, and 2014 figures extracted from the above studies for the French Euronext
quoted companies and for the UK FTSE ones in regards to Lord Davies’ 25% objective.
The calendar dates of observation are roughly the same (October for UK, end of June
for France).
To specifically enrich this “Women in Real Estate” report, we have broken out French
Euronext quoted companies working within the Real Estate domain.
The table below shows the results of 52 such companies among the whole sample
(418 companies)
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
The above figures are similar to those of the overall aggregate sample (not presented
One positive difference: Real Estate companies are ahead with a % of companies
below the 25% target which is lower (roughly 10 % ) than that of the companies in the
overall sample.
The graphs below illustrate the importance of the UK and French companies’ respective efforts to be accomplished to reach the set goals.
The average % growths are positive and similar (FTSE 100 accelerating) for all the
companies. The UK average % growth is lower since they started the target later.
But one must recognise that the targets are not set for average % of groups of companies, but for each individual company.
The average %’s can be misleading, since the high figures of the leading companies
compensate for the low ones of the laggard companies. Boards with no women on
them at all, and those which have not yet reached the 25 % target, are studied below.
French Big Caps all have at least one woman sitting on the board.
The UK FTSE 100 companies’ position is similar. Mid and Small French Caps have a few
But one can see the dramatic effort needed by the UK FTSE 250 companies with still 20
% of them with no woman on their boards.
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
Today the French Big caps and Mid + Small are performing well with respectively less
than 30 % and 40 % of them failing to reach the 25 % target.
The FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies have obviously progressed.
But a large number of companies (61 for FTSE) (186 for the FTSE 250) in September 2014
have not yet reach the 25% target. The year 2015 has already started.
Within the next two years, the FTSE 100 and 250 boards will have to focus on a strong
female recruitment process.
Although one cannot compare with the UK, it is interesting to show that for the French
listed companies, to reach the French objective of 40 % in 2017, the number of women to be recruited is high There is a possibility that only by reducing the total number
of seats per Board can these targets be met.
If the French Euronext companies had to follow the 25 % target set for the UK in 2015,
they would succeed, with a little more difficulty for the Mid and Small Caps. For the
UK, this target is very ambitious since every company has to reach it within the next 10
months. For the UK, assuming the 25 % are reached, considering it is still far from parity,
the next question will be: what is the next step?
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
4. Real Estate
industry: feedback
from annual event
4.1 What has helped women succeed in their careers?
The initial response from the individuals attending the workshop held by Claudia Garcia, CEO of DAREto at the Cercle de l’Union Interalliée was centred around six fundamental themes:
Confidence, training, flexibility, networking, intercultural understanding & passion.
These six themes are seen as crucial in professional career success.
1. Confidence
Confidence seems to play a central role in professional success and even more so
for women. To progress one must take risks, both to take decisions and to have the
confidence to propose actions. The willingness to understand, create or develop is a
strong enabler to progression in business. From the replies to the workshop, the common words and themes captured during the debate included: “dare to”, “curiosity”,
“persistence”, “determination”, “risk taking”, “take action”, “be creative”.
Risk taking, is defined by being willing to move forward and take on new challenges.
Unfortunately, it seems that this behaviour is not necessarily a common industry and
business practice, especially in France, where risk is frowned upon, be it entrepreneurial risk or going against the corporate hierarchy. Initiating new ideas and concepts
is sometimes discouraged, management preferring careful and prudent behaviour,
which maintains both a status quo and a stable financial situation. This dynamic is just
as applicable at the level of an organisation as at the level of an individual. (Harvard
Business Review).
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
Clearly, risk takers can encounter failure, but their risk taking does above all often provide a professional career boost when successful. So the advice is to be a leader, to
sell your ideas, highlighting the strong points, can be a beneficial approach, indeed
“to take a risk can potentially save you” (Challenges4).
Start a business, strive for positions of responsibility and know how to take risks: these
actions improve confidence and performance. Whether a graduate of HEC (‘Ecole
des Hautes Etudes Commerciales’) or an MBA post graduate, a woman is most frequently given a lower salary than her male equivalent. The failure to ask for a pay
rise could be a generational issue, but it can also be explained by the inhibition to
take risks. Only 7% of women actively negotiate their salary compared to 60% of men
2. Training
The workshop participants equally insisted on the need for
continuous training and personal development in order not
to not be limited by current knowledge. Daring is a fundamental step, but training acts itself as a facilitator. Trying
new behaviours and proposing ideas is much easier when
one understands the mechanics and processes of the workplace. The terms “training”, “mentor”, “good manager”,
”confidence”, “errors” and “feedback”, were frequently
“Excellence comes from learning” (Forbes). Training plays an important role in the development of a business as well as the evolution of a professional. In France, beyond
the employer’s interest, an employee has, by law, the right to be trained and this can
and should encourage innovation and excellence. If certain managers question the
return on investment, they are in the minority as major groups such as Philips, GE or
Motorola have put training at the forefront with internal training programmes and
through the use of virtual online platforms. Training offers a “win-win”. “An essential
element in the business strategy today is the investment on staff training” (Le Parisien).
3. Flexibility
A lack of flexibility is perhaps the most obvious stumbling block for women, who often
have to manage family and professional life and make sacrifices at each end. Improvements in working hours and work location through teleworking and flexible hours on
the one hand and the increase in part-time working for men on the other hand have
encouraged more women into work. 69% of women said they juggle family life and
professional career needs6.
The sheer organisational difficulty for women undermines their career opportunities
and encourages in women the idea that they are not doing enough, says Brigitte
Grésy7 , Secretary General of the French Equal Opportunities board (Conseil Supérieur
de l’egalité professionnelle). A large organisation such as Orange, the largest telecommunications company in France, has a reputation for encouraging women into
positions of responsibility through building more flexibility into the workplace: flexible
working hours, acceptance of absence, avoiding late afternoon/evening meetings.
- http://www.challenges.fr/entreprise/20140606.CHA4704/pourquoi-il-ne-faut-plus-avoir-peur-de-prendre-des-risques.html
- http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2012/03/20/want-equal-pay-take-this-challenge/
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2938316/ Perspectives on Parenthood and Working of Female Athletic
Trainers in the Secondary School and Collegiate Settings - Leamor Kahanov, Alice R. Loebsack, Matthew A. Masucci and
Jeff Roberts
- La vie en rose, Pour en découdre avec les stéréotypes, Brigitte Grésy, Albin Michel,
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
Other solutions consist of fighting the erosion of part-time working for women, encouraging paternal leave (L’Express). Today 96.5% of all parental leave is taken by women (France 28). Current debates on the involvement of men during this important
moment have brought to the table the possibilities to increase the length of, and
make, parental leave compulsory for men. Even if we see improvements on new generations, there is still a need of communication on the benefits of this for both parents
(Le Nouvel Obs).
On the other hand, business travel, working and living abroad, and a grasp of foreign
languages are often cited as another springboard for increasing one’s value to an
organisation. Furthermore, embracing new technologies and new business sectors as
they evolve enables women to seize further opportunity for e-advancement and was
cited by the respondents at the workshop.
4. Networking
Building up a good network is seen as a critical
factor in career success; it is nourished through
building new contacts at events, conferences,
and workshops. It is these contacts that are
seen as fundamental by the workshop participants.
Whether you have a professional or personal network, it is important to consider both
when looking to succeed and move up the career ladder. One can expand one’s
network by meeting people and developing a deeper and more effective set of
working relationships. However, managing your network is very time consuming and
difficult. To manage one’s network is to anticipate the opportunities that are available to us (Forbes). To ignore a network is to cut oneself off from today’s professional
world around you. Nevertheless, a network requires research and planning to ensure
it is exploited efficiently.
One needs to have a “networking mentality”, explains L’Apec (Association pour l’emploi des cadres) in a report focussed on the development of its own network. It goes
on to encourage candidates to look for the many opportunities available through
their own initiative, which is an essential component of professional maturity.
5. Intercultural
National customs in the world of business and
an individual’s approach to business process
vary from one culture to another, and the participants in the “Women in Real Estate” Forum
were particularly aware of this challenge. International business development raises new
problems to address. To understand the different cultural identities, to understand how individual staff interact and to appreciate the variety of culturally induced behaviours gives one a stronger understanding and a more
efficient and successful approach to business inside the multinational organisation.
- http://www.najat-vallaud-belkacem.com/2013/06/12/reportage-conge-parental-partager-pour-favoriser-lemploi-des-femmes/
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
To better understand the challenges of the multi-cultural
world, one needs to speak a foreign language and to be
able to understand one’s colleagues. In today’s multinational business world it is increasingly necessary to deal
with staff, suppliers and customers from all points of the
globe, particularly in Blue Chip corporations.
6. Passion
It is stating the obvious to say that successful career advancement requires a deep understanding of ones self,
and the individual’s role in business, in addition a global
view of the business politics and process in is needed order to reach one’s full potential. A number of participants at the conference felt that, to some extent, personal advancement and growth in a company is influenced by one’s well-being or
self-confidence. The ability to effectively combine “work and play” and to maintain
good humour in the office contributes to success as well as overall happiness.
Traditional career path and work life balance behaviours have evolved. A long career
in a single firm has been replaced by two to three year periods in multiple organisations. The vision of work as an unpleasant and unstimulating obligation has been replaced; today people more often enjoy their work, particularly when they spend such
a large part of their life in the workplace.
“Success is not the key to happiness, but happiness is the key to success” (Albert
The terms: “well-being”, “happiness”, “passion” and “motivation” were recurring themes.
4.2 What are the key issues that need to be addressed?
During the second part of the workshop, a number of key business industry leaders
were interviewed concerning their personal views of how to improve advancement
for women in the industry at large, based on their individual experience. The delegates then questioned them and gave their personal perspectives.
The discussion returned to the main themes examined in the first part of the workshop.
In addition, the team cited communication, equality and human resource management as the key issues.
1. Internal communication
Many delegates criticised the quality and process of communication at the heart
of their organisation. Their views and ideas typically stopped at the departmental
level and were not conveyed higher or wider in the structure. Delegates highlighted
a need for the encouragement of broader communication in order to open up dialogue and improve the free flow of ideas. The typical French model is still one of a
vertical hierarchic model where commands stem from superiors who are responsible
for their dissemination down through the company. Working horizontally would occur
where the superior was seen as a partner more than a boss and sole decision maker. This alternative approach is only possible where the management is prepared
to accept challenge and is open to ideas and suggestions. In such a cross-functional communication structure, an organisation naturally will encourage and develop
more communications across the organisation, which are always beneficial.
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
All companies have a major interest in ensuring optimal communication. This horizontal approach will keep employees more aware of business change and their personal
value by showing them that they are integrated into the strategy developed by the
2. Equality
Clearly the key challenge for business today is still the continued lack of real equality
across industry, which needs to be addressed. We cannot say for sure what managerial differences there are between men and women despite many theories and research. The participants were
concerned at “the veneer of diversity”. While it is clear the
general behaviour and thinking has changed for the better, the delegates were equally concerned that the more
open and modern approach was often decried and
poorly accepted by middle and senior management. Elisabeth Karako, the Diversity Director at BNP Paribas, explained “that there are still
many prejudices to sweep away”9 . If we look at salary equality as a measure of
gender equality, it is clear we are still far from achieving parity. In a 2013 study, L’Insee
(Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques) showed that the male/
female salary differential in the private sector was 28% in 2010.
Martine Van Went, Co-President of the PWN (Professional Women’s Network) Paris,
added “that by introducing mentoring and coaching more and more women dared
to challenge and ask for parity of pay”. The equality motor has started and it remains
to keep it going with understanding and good practice. (L’Express10)
3. Human Resource management
Clearly, the HR department has a fundamental and crucial role to play in improvement at the heart of an organisation. Many of the replies centred on the question
of “flexibility”. By encouraging flexible working, it is possible to improve the working
conditions for women and help their career progress. Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, has stated that she alternates her business hours to meet both her family and
professional demands. She would return to work when the children slept for example.
One participant spoke of the “always available office based culture”, where absence
from the office was condemned, which restricts women’s progression in a company
as they struggle to balance their professional and family demands. Others recommended that encouraging more men to take parental leave would potentially help
more women for follow their career, even after birth.
The emphasis should be on training and mentoring,
these two methods enable individuals to reach their potential quicker and for the HR department to be able
to deliver higher performance individuals better adapted to the rigours of business life. To have management
which listens to staff, which understands the problems
of its teams, enables better working conditions and an improvement in the general
atmosphere in the working environment. Management that appreciates the human
dimension is essential in building trust and loyalty in employees. A good business is a
company that trusts its staff.
- http://www.lepoint.fr/societe/happy-men-et-si-la-parite-en-entreprise-passait-par-les-hommes-28-03-2014-1806544_23.php
- http://www.lexpress.fr/emploi/gestion-carriere/egalite-homme-femme-cinq-defis-pour-l-entreprise_1498218.html
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
5. Recommendations
from industry leaders
We are delighted to present a series of recommendations and best practices from
some of the most relevant women in the European Real Estate Industry. To introduce this
section, we are pleased to include the recommendations given by Cristina Lunghi, a
pioneer in gender equality subjects.
Cristina Lunghi
President and Founder of Arborus, Déléguée Générale
of the Arborus Fund
Doctor of Law, Cristina Lunghi created “l’Association Arborus” in 1995
which is focused on the questions of equality in the workplace and
equal opportunity. She has been seen as an expert in the field both
nationally and with the EU on these questions for the past 20 years.
Since 2010 she has been “Déléguée générale” of the Arborus Fund which lead the GEE&IS
Gender Equality European & International Standard, certificated by Bureau Veritas.
One of the most important missions of Arborus is to create a common culture on gender
equality in the world of business.
Cristina Lunghi has worked across a number of different projects on Diversity and was
tasked by the French Government’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities
in the Workplace, to create the label « Egalité » and to form an active group of companies supporting Equality called « CLUB du Label Egalité ». She continues to support the
European gender and diversity programmes and she is also a member of the National
Commission ANDRH for the prevention of discrimination and runs the “le CLUB du Label
Diversité de l’ANDRH”. She has been a member of the Equalities Observatory, which is an
initiative of the Prime Minister and the AFNOR standards committee for the development
of equality programmes in Human Resources. She has also participated in the creation
of the French “Diversité” label. She supports businesses in their development of equality
practice and labelling through her consulting firm Diversity and Equal Opportunities.
What advice would you give to young women that are building their professional career?
First of all “be yourself”, you have only one life. Do not leave anything that really matters
to you behind; keep this in mind every single day.
Secondly “know to take care of yourself”, you have exactly the same value that all the
people that surrounds you.
Madame Lunghi gives this practical advice for women in business to take the lead in
“creating and collaborating in networks and working groups”. And last but not least, she
exhorts all women to “pursue their dreams” and “dare to take risks” if you don’t dare,
you will never know if it was possible.
To know more about the Arborus Fund: http://www.arborus.info/en
To read the complete interview: http://dareto.fr/rencontres.html
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
5.1 Their learning from the Real Estate road
Janet Stewart-Goatly
Investments Senior Director at CBRE
Janet Stewart Goatly joined CBRE in 1993. She is Senior Director in the
Investment Department of the Paris office with particular responsibility for investment property acquisition and disposal with international
clients. The Paris investment team handled some 2.65 billion of acquisitions and disposals in 2013 for insurance companies, funds, financial
institutions, property companies both domestic and international.
Prior to joining CBRE, Janet worked for some 12 years with Jones Lang LaSalle in Paris.
Her first job in France was with HRO, an international property development company
where she worked from 1975 to 1980 assisting Howard Ronson in his varied portfolio
of developments throughout Europe. She is a member of the Cercle des Femmes de
l’Immobilier. Janet was educated in England and in Australia.
Her main recommendations for young women in Real Estate are:
Make the difference an asset: for a long time showing that you were different wasn’t
a good sign for your career, in today’s world it’s your uniqueness that makes the difference..
Don’t limit yourself: Don’t think of all the potential negative things that can happen if
you take on a challenge or change job. Stay focused on the positive things that could
come along with your decision. Dream big!
Work in mixed teams from the beginning of your career: biases will be reduced if we
are used to working in a diverse environment.
Dominique Dudan
President at Union Investment
After her university scientific studies, she joined the Real Estate
world and became a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered
Surveyor (FRICS).
Between 1996 and 2005, Dominique Dudan held the post of Development Director for the Accor Hotels & Resorts Group. From 2006 to 2008 she was Operations Director for HSBC Reim and a board member, then she joined BNP Paribas Reims
as DGA and director of regulated property funds. She had her own consulting firm
Artio Conseil and was also General Director of the Arcole Asset Management firm.
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
In 2011 Dominique Dudan became President of Union Investment Real Estate France
SAS. Dominique Dudan has the distinction of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite.
She is administrator for l’ORIE et de RICS France, a member of the Economic Commission Group of Service Professionel for the MEDEF, a member of the « Cercle des
Femmes de l’Immobilier » and the « Club de l’Immobilier d’Ile de France ».
Dominique observes that sharing is fundamental. Her main advice is to understand
the importance of mutual assistance: she has always taken the time to exchange
and share her experience as well as help and coach younger generations. The relationships and the confidence built in these occasions proved to be very important
throughout her career.
Early 2014, Dominique was appointed member of the board of RICS France. Just a
couple of months after this appointment, she implemented a programme which aims
to “coach” half a dozen RICS members, help them better understand their position in
their companies and their possible progression: a “mentoring team” shares with the
selected participants hints on what to do to move forward in their career or where to
find new job opportunities.
As she explained “we (the mentoring team) are not head-hunters, neither job advisors” but we truly believe that sharing the vision on the same industry is extremely
important, sometimes even the best conversations with friends would not help us to
move forward on a career. This is where expertise has all its strength.
Corinne Colson Lafon
President at Steam’O and General Manager at KIDS’UP
Corinne Colson-Lafon, studied at the French Ecole Centrale in Paris and has an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon. In 2008, she created
Steam’O, after 17 years in the business world, primarily as Director
General of the facility management entity she created as part of
the Cofathec (GDF) group. Her entity Cofathec Maintenance generated some €100M in 5 years. In 2008 she decided to follow her own path and she
formed her own venture.
Steam’O is a leading independent and innovative Real Estate Facility Management
company. As buildings are constructed with more focus on “build in intelligent ways
and become more sustainable”, they require global management with new technologies. Her advice to young women in real estate today is:
Take on new challenges and opportunities: Do not hesitate in taking risks. This is true
for internal moves proposed by the management, one-time projects or even for jobs
where you have the impression of knowing nothing about it.
If they choose you, it is because they believe you CAN: and the management are
expecting that you will take on the challenge and make it a success. Never under-estimate your capabilities, in this type of environment the risk is somehow shared since
the company will do it best to make you succeed.
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
Never reject a project immediately: think about all possible options, ask all your questions and ensure to drive a discussion which will lead by itself to a possible yes/no
which will not come necessarily from you
Ensure you do your “internal marketing”: Put forward your personal ideas and results
factually and openly. Present them to senior leaders with whom you can have informal discussions to get a better understanding of the company’s context and strategic
decisions and also to start building your “role models” and finding mentors.
Nathalie Charles
Head of Asset Management & Transactions, Southern Europe, AXA
Investment Managers
Nathalie graduated from the French Ecole Polytechnique and joined
AXA in 2013 after 5 years as Corporate Real Estate Director of the EDF
Group. She has 27 years of business experience spanning various real
estate institutions. Between 1996 and 2007 she held several positions
at Unibail-Radamco, her last role was Deputy Managing Director, Office Division - Unibail-Rodamco Group. She is a member of both the “Club de L’Immobilier“ and “Cercle des Femmes de l’Immobilier”. During her last 3 years at EDF she
was chairing the Women’s network of this industrial giant.
Her main recommendations are as follows:
Let’s try: Only people who try new things (jobs, actions, change of company, and so
on…) can make mistakes, but only those people can learn and can make progress.
Don’t be shy! Manage your career, don’t wait for opportunities but chase them.
Ask for what you deserve: compensation and benefits, but also be the one to present
your own work in front of the CEO, the one who raises a hand to question or express
ideas during strategic discussions in one word: take your place at the table.
Gender progress is a “men and women” topic, not a “women only” one. Women
networks are great but don’t try to improve the situation against men, but with them.
Stephanie Bensimon
Head of Transactions France, Spain & Italy, Invesco Real Estate
Stéphanie Bensimon was appointed Head of Transactions at Invesco
in December 2011. 35 years old, she studied DESS finance at the Paris-Dauphine University. She started her career at Rabobank International and then moved to General Electric Capital Real Estate where
she was financial analyst and head of the Risk and Acquisitions for
GE France. From 2006 she moved to CarVal Investors where she was appointed VP
The most relevant things that she observes that helped advance her career are:
Mix junior and senior: allowing junior talents to present projects to senior management
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
helped me to feel recognized and to increase my self-confidence to aspire higher
and faster within the organization.
Diversity as a driver: being part of an international group allowed me to meet with
people from several nationalities, this diversity helped me to widen my perspectives,
improve my communications skills and moreover, work abroad on several projects
and get exposure to new challenges.
Network as young as possible: being part of professional networks and working groups
outside my company allowed me to build a trusted network which helped me to gain
market knowledge which was extremely useful for my job and career.
Janicka Bassis
Janicka started her career at Cogedim in 1987. She moved to develop real estate at Credit Lyonnais from 1993-2002 where she worked
on the Forum des Halles project. In 2003 she led Group Foncia’s Real
Estate Investment department before moving to Austria to lead DTZ
Asset Management’s Eastern European department in 2008. By 2011,
she worked on the Internet Real Estate social network Belbex and
founded WWIRE “World Women in Real Estate” in 2012 to help women in the Real Estate profession: www.wwire.eu.
Her main recommendations to those in Generation-Y who are new to the Real Estate
business are:
Education is the one thing that no one can take from you but at the same time allows
you the ability to give to others.
Find guidance from top management inside the companies you work for: If management feels you are a leader and eager to grow, any good boss will help. It takes a lot
of time on both sides, but in the end both of you will be proud.
Invest in yourself: Coaching facilitates growth by increasing your self-esteem and gives you meaningful guidance with a clear focus.
Learn to brand yourself by drawing out your unique abilities and standing firm with
them to avoid being lost in the mass.
Always look for the connecting dots among people: Real Estate’s motto has always
been location, location, location. But for relationships with clients and colleagues, my
motto is to maintain, maintain, maintain to have the ultimate gain.
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
5.2 Key actions to develop female employees
The interviewed senior leaders shared
a series of key actions that they consider need to be implemented, as soon
as possible, within the Real Estate organisations to ensure the development of
their female employees:
1) Senior Leadership Mentoring: Providing advice and guidance to mid managers on strategies to break through
any perceived ceiling: counselling and advice freely available & accessible
2) Visibility: Get more female speakers at events: and not just to speak on gender
3) Training: Make public speaking and presentational skills training as available and
necessary as possible, some women are still afraid to speak in public for fear of being
4) Go international: Expand the playground, today’s real estate professionals need to
take this seriously if they want to bring their career to the next level
5) Company Networking: Ask senior professionals to give advice: mentoring, sponsoring and sharing experiences are crucial for helping junior professionals to advance in
their career. This system should be somehow imposed by pairs, but flexible in terms of
implementation (timing, frequency, etc)
6) HR Practice: Insist on getting female curriculums for all job openings. Whist it might
be hard to have the same amount of CVs for each gender, at least try to have the
maximum possible for each interview.
7) Company-wide flexible behaviour: Improve the work-life balance for all, such as:
reduce late meetings, avoid abroad trips on Monday mornings or Friday evenings,
develop a culture based on results and not in hours at the office.
8) Network as part of your job: Not only to get the right connections, but also to bring
new ideas into your organisation, develop partnerships and/or collaborations, etc.
9) Dare to help the younger ones: Female managers should try as much as possible to
help less experienced women to take their place (obviously, only if they agree with it).
By developing this close relationship, the young women will receive advice and ideas
on how to balance their professional and personal life.
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
6. Conclusion
Ultimately, whether the key is the factors described by the participants above or the
more concrete actions recommended, the same fundamental subjects come back:
the importance of training, mentoring or sponsorship; the flexibility of an organisation
and the well-being of its staff; taking risks and the value of a network.
a. Training and mentoring allow a rapid acquisition of knowledge and understanding of the professional world. However, today these practices
are not widely adopted.
b. F lexibility enhances the work life balance, essential for one’s well-being.
But the adoption of this approach has still a long way to go particularly as
it requires far more than acceptance by men, specifically in the areas of
part-time working and parental leave.
c. Individual well-being is a key success factor. To be passionate about your
job, to appreciate the work of your colleagues, and be enthusiastic with
the different tasks you encounter allows one to see the job not as a burden, but an environment in which to flourish. Sadly today few businesses
have been able to create this human dimension successfully.
d. T aking on new challenges, accepting the risk of failure and enabling your-
self to go international if needed, were mentioned as key in increasing
and accelerating career opportunities.
Finally, the majority of the workshop participants underlined the importance of a
network to be successful in one’s professional life. Continually developing and enriching your network is vitally important. This enables you to better identify and react to
new opportunities and challenges, and to achieve further professional growth.
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
7. The authors
Bob Lewis, President of the Franco British Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Claudia Garcia, CEO and Founder of DAREto
Caroline Turner, Researcher and Consultant Gender - Women in Leadership at
Cranfield University
Guy Le Péchon, CEO and Partner of “Gouvernance & Structures” (G & S)
Women interviewed:
Nicole Ameline, UN Chairperson CEDAW, Deputy Calvados, Member of the UMP and
Vice President of the Regional Council of Basse Normandie
Cristina Lunghi, President and Founder of Arborus, Déléguée Générale of the Arborus
Janet Stewart-Goatly, Investments Senior Director at CBRE
Dominique Dudan, President at Union Investment
Corinne Colson, President at Steam’O and General Manager at KIDS’UP
Nathalie Charles, Head of Asset Management & Transactions, Southern Europe, AXA IM
Stephanie Bensimon, Head of Transactions France, Spain & Italy, Invesco Real Estate
Janicka Bassis, Founder of W.W.I.R.E (WORLD WOMEN IN REAL ESTATE)
Editing and translation:
Gayle Gorvett, Managing Director at GGorvett Consulting
Catherine Le Yaouanc, General Manager of the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Damien Templer, Communication and community manager at DAREto
William Wogan, Project Coordinator at the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce &
Juan Diosdado, Founder of Weapons of Mass Seduction
8. References
I. Cranfield University Management School for UK Female FTSE studies reports. All studies available at : http://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/ftse
II. For “Gouvernance & Structures studies”, contact Guy Le Péchon ([email protected])
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement
Leading the Franco-British Business Community in France
Franco-British Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Women in Real Estate – A framework for improvement