Leading managing agent Rendall & Rittner focuses heavily on investing in its employees and creating a company where individuals can flourish regardless of gender. To tie in with International Women’s Day (Friday 8th March 2019), female members of Rendall & Rittner’s senior management team comment on gender equality in the property management industry and encouraging women into the sector.
Catherine Riva – Director (CR)
Catherine Orezzi – Head of HR (CO)
Karen Gray – Area Director (KG)
Joanna Biles – Area Director (JB)
Sam Short – Area Director (SS)
Kremena Lordanova – Head of Client Accounting (KI)
Alexandra Redmond – Director, Cardoe Martin (AR)
What does R&R do to encourage recruitment of females?
CR: At Rendall & Rittner, I feel we are doing an excellent job at promoting roles for women. Our head office population of almost 400 employees has 61% female staff, including myself a female on our board of seven. Our Board and Senior Management team is 32% female and our Team Leaders are 54% female.
We are committed to attracting and retaining the best staff in the industry whatever their gender and we regularly survey our staff to obtain their views on how we are operating, via pulse surveys and focus groups. As a result of this engagement and our commitment to continuous improvement, we introduced more family-friendly policies that included an enhanced maternity offering, flexible working and sabbaticals. We also hire staff through The Daisy Chain - a company set up specifically for parents to match their careers, while supporting their work life balance. In addition to regularly seeking feedback from our staff, we also keep our finger on the pulse to ensure we are aware of emerging trends inside and outside of our sector, to ensure we continue to evolve and retain our status as a leading employer. The accolade of R&R achieving Investors in People Platinum award last year is fantastic external verification of our drive and commitment.
Is property management a career choice that appeals to women?
SS: Sadly, I don’t think that it is an obvious career choice for men or women yet, as few people really understand what we do and it is not well publicised. I do think however, that many women naturally have the mix of skills required such as communication, empathy and multi-tasking to be successful within the role.
The property industry at large is typically quite male dominated – is this true of property management?
CR: Since I first started out in this industry, I have found there to be a substantial proportion of women within the residential property management sector, with the exception of only one firm (many years ago) where I was the first female to be made an Associate Director. What I have seen change, most significantly, over time is a greater number of females taking up more senior roles within our corporate clients.
KI: I believe this may have been the case a decade or so ago but not today, our staff is split fairly equally between the sexes and I believe that equality and diversity is recognised substantially within most companies today.
AR: Building surveying is still very male dominated, particularly at senior and leadership level where balance needs to be addressed and this image improved. Property as an industry thrives on innovation, and lots of larger firms have been quick to recognise and promote their female talent into strategic roles and created role models for young women entering the industry. It is improving noticeably and can only continue progressing.
What are the barriers to women entering careers in property management?
SS: Long hours and evening meetings do not mix well with family life, but I think that this can be overcome with flexibility around working times and location. We provide a suite of training courses to all employees to support them in their career in property management.
AR: Building surveying isn’t a well-known option at the stage young women are looking at their career choices, and awareness is the largest initial hurdle. Others are put off by the need for an RICS accredited university degree, and the process for gaining chartered status, which requires considerable work and dedication. This is particularly true for people joining the industry at a later stage in life juggling families, studies and a busy workload.
Do you think being female has any advantages/disadvantages in the world of property management?
JB: There may be some preconceived ideas from the people that we meet day to day, however I haven’t experienced any prejudice. As long as you work hard and do your best, you will earn respect, which leads to trust, which is important when you are often looking after people’s biggest personal asset.
AR: I have found building surveying a reasonably level playing field for women to work equally within, as you are operating on technical knowledge more than anything else, which is refreshing for a traditionally male dominated industry. Being a minority group in the workforce makes it easier to be noticed, purely as you stand out, and women should create advantage by seeking recognition, stepping up to senior and strategic positions and being role models for the next generation.
What should businesses and the government do to encourage more women to enter the sector?
CR: For the residential property management sector, it is not gender specific changes to the industry that is needed but regulation as a whole. There are many firms like R&R, which operate and maintain high standards, but unfortunately this is not true across the entire sector. Regulation will raise standards and professionalism, as well as helping us attract and retain the best employees across our industry and outside of it, regardless of gender, increasing positive awareness of our sector.
JB: Education is essential – promoting the sector and encouraging companies to sponsor educational workshops in schools will lead to greater awareness of the industry and the variety of opportunities that are available.
How can we better promote careers in property (management) to the younger generation?
AR: Early engagement through schools, industry programmes, and career guidance to present property as the industry which anybody can enter and succeed within, regardless of gender, background or where you started in life.
CO: We already run apprentice and graduate schemes but we can do more to promote property management in schools and colleges and forming closer relationships with specific universities. We are also working with the Trailblazer apprentice group to develop a degree apprenticeship scheme.
Would you recommend the property management industry to other women/ girls?
KI: Most definitely yes. What I like the most working in the property management sector is the variety of work I get to do on a daily and weekly basis.
CO: I think anyone who works in the property management industry needs to be quite robust whether male or female, as they will face many different scenarios every day. I would encourage anyone to be part of it as the progression opportunities are vast.
For further information about Rendall & Rittner, visit www.rendallandrittner.co.uk
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