Insight

The Hard Cash Issue Behind Diversity Gone Wrong

It’s probably safe to say the number of companies that lack diversity initiatives is fast approaching zero. The fact is, that pro-diversity talent planning drives your bottom line by capturing more market share and radically diminishing employee turnover costs. As ex-CEO of the BPF Liz Peace CBE says, “diversity is not a women’s issue, or an HR issue, it is a value issue and a cold, hard cash issue.”

Despite all the time and energy deploying incentives, metrics and strategies, the increase to the number of women in senior management still sees only scant success. Which begs the question, why? It’s not for a lack of inspiring mission statements or animated talk at conference panels!

A recent study from Bain & Co revealed that almost half of newly recruited women signalled a desire for top management, compared with about a third of men. About 25% on each side showed strong confidence in their abilities to get there. However, after just two years, the initial ambition and confidence diminishes markedly among women, whilst it’s then that it increases in men.

Hiring for diversity in real estate is far from enough. All companies in built environment need to think about their diversity strategically in terms of talent life-cycles, especially in real estate and property, which are historically both male-dominated. Our recent Loyalty Report revealed just how important growing loyalty amongst women and millennials is for the market leaders in real estate, property and construction.

We take equal opportunities very seriously here at Holtby Turner. We recently underwent a rigorous appraisal of our full business operations as part of our acceptance to the global Association of Executive Search Consultants, and are also proud signatories to the Government Department of Business Innovation & Skills’ code of conduct for diversity.

Aware that it’s easy just to pay lip service on anything diversity related, we have developed a plan for businesses across property and construction. With clear targets and milestones, we use it to work closely with clients when recruiting and beyond, ensuring that the positive effects of diversity are experienced right up to board level.

What we’re keen to avoid are hiring initiatives undermind by the subsequent lack of understanding about what real estate’s senior management need to do so young ambitious women remain, feeling enthused and motivated to progress in the sector.

By that, we don’t mean only helping women through the child-rearing years – though that is clearly a key cause of attrition – but about creating a culture that makes women want to stay.

Whilst diversity initiatives should be proactively managed, too many can unintentionally divert attention from the development and deployment of a more strategic talent pipeline. I thought a good point to end this piece was with the questions below. These are some of the aspects we examine with clients when doing early stage assessments of their diversity strategies:

  1. Are you counting on short-term initiatives to solve a long-term problem?
  2. Are you wasting money on recruiting for diversity by not following through?
  3. Do you use the same level of care to nurture talented women as you do to recruit them?
  4. Do you actually have a strategy and culture that offers dedicated support to women, encouraging them to stay on into middle and senior management?
  5. Is your diversity strategy really meaningful and aligned with your values so that all employees – both male and female – truly believe in it?


To discuss these question in relation to your organisation’s diversity planning call me, Mark Bailey, on +44 (0) 203 371 6680. Really look forward to seeing how we could help.