Success of women in real estate must be celebrated

Posted On Wednesday, 28 August 2013 19:14 Published by Commercial Property News
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The listed property sector has not a single woman CEO and only one chairwoman, but the past decade has seen women rise to senior executive positions.

Ipeleng MkhariWhile gender parity is not dissimilar to the challenges other business sectors face, in the real estate industry many women hold senior executive positions and are represented on the board of most listed property firms.

Research into female representation in the listed property sector showed that while no woman heads a listed property fund and only Rebosis has Anna Mokgokong as its nonexecutive chairwoman, progress has been made. According to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report on women, just more than one quarter of top decision-making roles in South African business was filled by women.

Delta Properties independent nonexecutive director Ipeleng Mkhari says: "The challenge of gender parity in the property sector is not dissimilar to challenges in other business sectors.

"When one considers that the property sector is broad in nature, we tend to find women located in service businesses that feed into the listed property sector."

She says one of the greatest obstacles to access and advancement in the sector is education. "As a past chairperson of Women’s Property Network, I established the first education trust during my term (in) 2007-09. The education trust is aimed at financially supporting young women in their property studies. (It) specifically targets young women in the property sector and has seen a number of women advancing to more senior roles in the property industry," Ms Mkhari says.

She says the second challenge in the advancement of women to senior roles in the listed sector is the lack of exposure generally in this market.

Rebosis financial director Janys Finn says: "In general, I do not view representation by women in the property sector as being different to representation in the general listed space, and have always been of the belief that the ceilings we encounter are largely due to the challenges faced by balancing our careers with the demands of raising a family and running a home."

Ms Finn says the challenges are worsened in a country that does not necessarily cater for the working woman.

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