Today marks International Women’s Day 2023. This years theme is #EmbraceEquity. Co–founders of Madison Berkeley Nina Zeilerbauer and Clare Coe say that the industry has shown, particularly in the last year, that it really is embracing equity in terms of recruitment.

The real estate sector is the foundation block of the UK economy. It attracts huge global capital investment, employing 12 million people and contributing 1.7 billion pounds to the UK economy. As the world reacts to change, exacerbated over the last few years due to the pandemic and the war in Europe it is fair to say our industry hasn’t always reacted as quickly as others.

For many years our industry has been heavily weighted towards males in senior positions. As founders of Madison Berkley and with over 40 years plus of senior recruitment experience between us – our mission with Madison Berkeley is to change the face of real estate. If top real estate firms can only demonstrate males in senior positions it is not reflective of the society we live in. Our aim however, is not to positively discriminate, it is to educate, inform and help key industry decision makers, our clients, to understand the value of having a senior gender balance within their organisations.

Our industry knows equity must be embraced and is clearly acting on it. Partnerships are only happening between companies who can demonstrate equity and inclusion. It has therefore become a real growth risk going forward for any real estate business not to demonstrate an equal level of females within their senior positions. It is no longer a tick box exercise.

Our first eighteen months of trading saw us place 50% of females in roles, this was a huge achievement in an industry with only 13% female representation at that time. We have continued to build on that by ensuring we collaborate with key organisations within the industry such as Black Women in Real estate and the #IAMWOMAN campaign we partnered on. The last recorded figures (2021) showed that female representation in our industry has marginally increased from 13% to 15%. We believe that the next figures will show a steep improvement. This year the conversations we have had with key decision makers at our top real estate firms have been very different. Those decision makers are demonstrably pushing hard to ensure that they have an equal number of female candidates as men for all job roles they are offering through Madison Berkeley.

Up until a year ago this was less the case. It is now clear that gender plus experience is just as important for clients as experience on its own. Over the last few years we have had to work hard to ensure that women candidates were given the same opportunities in our industry. That uphill struggle has quite suddenly changed. We are now being asked by our clients to ensure that we are matching the amount of male candidates with female candidates we offer on each live job role. Prior to this, we found we were generally doing the pushing and not the other way round.

We will continue to guide UK and global real estate companies through a gender balanced recruitment process. However, ensuring that we also pay attention to attracting more women into the industry and retaining them must also be a priority. Without paying attention to this the industry won’t be able to ensure parity in gender offerings for roles.

Clare Coe and Nina Zeilerbauer are co founders of Madison Berkeley. Their unique way of recruiting has seen them work on some of London’s most lucrative developments with excellent results.