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Helen Gough in Estates Gazette article on gender equality

Women less comfortable with confrontations’ comment draws reaction

Women in property have spoken out after a panelist at this week’s British Property Federation conference said women were held back as they struggled to deal with travel and were less comfortable dealing with confrontation.

Graeme Eadie, senior managing director at CPP Investment Board,said yesterday that women in real estate “seem to be less comfortable in confrontational situations”.

None of the panel reacted to his comments at the time, including interviewer, BBC journalist Naga Munchetty.

But Susan Freeman, a partner at Mishcon de Reya, who tweeted during the panel, said: “Generalisations are always dangerous, especially in relation to such a complex and nuanced topic.

“In my view, and with the experience of many years working in the male-dominated UK real estate sector, it is all about personality rather than gender, and of course women are able to be just as confrontational as men, when required.

“There are many different ways of achieving what you want in a negotiation and often subtlety is much more effective than confrontation.”

Alexandra Notay, a strategy consultant at the Urban Land Institute, called the comments “well-intentioned, but outrageous”. Reacting to comments about women with family not being able to “deal with the travel” she said: “Would like to show Eadie my schedule!”.

Graeme Eadie of CPPIB comments that women are less comfortable with confrontational situations. Really..?

@Propertyshe incredulous at that suggestion. Certainly not the case in this office!

"After (women) start a family, they can't deal with the travel." Would like to show Eadie my schedule! @ktomusk@EstatesGazette @Propertyshe

In an article for Estates Gazette in response to yesterday’s news story Helen Gough, lead director buildings & construction and chair of JLL’s Women’s Network, said since the comments were reported, colleagues and clients had been talking about their experiences of returning to work after maternity leave and managing successful careers and a family life.

She said: “This is not just an issue for women. In today’s world flexibility and the ability to combine a career and a family life is increasingly important for parents of both genders and thankfully technology, connectivity and shared parental leave make this a much easier proposition that it was in the past.

“It’s to be welcomed that gender equality is being discussed, as even 10 or 15 years ago it wasn’t on the radar in property and it is key that we continue to debate and share stories and experiences to inspire and show others what is possible

“Culturally, the real estate industry is waking up to the benefits of diversity and inclusion in all its forms. We want and need to be reflective of the clients and the communities we serve. And frankly, if we are to stay relevant we need to bring in and promote the best talent, skills and experience from across the population, not just a small sub-set.

“This is about a change of mindset across the sector, which is what initiatives like Changing the Face of Property, Real Estate Balance and Freehold are striving to achieve.

“Confrontation is something that leaders need to be comfortable with, and can be an issue holding back both women and men, but we also need to recognise that good leaders have to hold many qualities beyond just an ability to confront and demand. The ability to inspire, collaborate, listen and guide are also crucial qualities that can often be overlooked in both genders.

“Succeeding in business is not easy whatever your gender, race, sexuality or religion. However, if we can create a culture where people are comfortable to be themselves and valued for what they contribute regardless of their background , then we have the best chance of attracting and keeping the best talent in our industry.”

This article is taken from Estates Gazette