In honour of International Women’s Day (8th March), we sat down with the female members of Rendall & Rittner’s senior management team to discuss gender equality in the property management industry. As a leading management agent, Rendall & Rittner focuses on heavily investing in its employees and creating a company where individuals can flourish regardless of gender.
CR - Catherine Riva – Director
SP – Sue Petri - Director
CO – Cat Orezzi - HR Director – Rendall & Rittner Operations Limited
SS – Sam Short – Divisional Director
KG – Karen Gray – Divisional Director
AR – Alexandra Redmond – Director, Cardoe Martin
KI - Kremena Iordanova – Head of Client Accounting
JB - Jo Biles – Divisional Director
Have you seen an increase in women joining the property sector since beginning your career in property?
KI - Yes, especially in a day and age when diversity and equality is celebrated and promoted, I don’t believe this sector to be male dominated any more.
AR - Yes - Answering as a Chartered Building Surveyor, I can see many more women are entering property and surveying in particular, and our governing body (RICS) commit to promoting the industry as an equal and progressive industry for women to enter and succeed in.
What does R&R do to encourage the recruitment of women?
CO - We have a 59% / 41% split in R&R in favour of women. All our recruitment practices are inclusive and we do a lot to support flexibility in terms of working locations and working hours. We have done a lot of work recently in highlighting our benefits, which has been well received by people joining the company. 10% of our employees also work part time and we have seen an increase in this over the last year or so.
What do you think puts women off of working in property? How can the industry address this?
SP -I don’t think women are put off working in property. However, if you look at the stats most senior staff are still men. We need to beware of inadvertent gender bias and ensure that companies remain welcoming and accommodating to women as they progress through their career. I am proud to work for a company where this remains a clear priority
AR - Probably the same things that some would be attracted by - flexible hours which sometimes involves working late, early or on shift patterns, which for some are good for other commitments. Also, the level of work involved in gaining chartered status can be off putting as it requires a lot of commitment beyond your day to day work, which can be difficult with family or caring responsibilities. Employers promoting diversity, inclusion and flexibility will empower women to seek a challenging career without worrying about how any personal commitments might be perceived professionally, and this should be encouraged and become the norm for all.
Do you think being a woman in property has any advantages / disadvantages?
CR - I strongly believe it is important in any sector to have a good mix of male and female employees at all levels. At Rendall and Rittner we employ, want to recruit and retain the best people in the industry and further afield – male and female. We have created flexible working initiatives, great employee packages and engagement initiatives for all.
CO - It’s challenging, demanding, hard work and it can be long hours. But in my view, this is true of most sectors. However, the rewards are great in property. There are so many different departments that you can work in – property management, finance, HR, credit control, insurance, IT - there are a lot of options depending on your skill set. If you want to build a career, the opportunities are there for you.
How can we better promote careers in property to the younger generation of women?
CO - We need to build closer relationships with universities to talk to students about what the property industry is like. I think there is a perception that we are Estate Agents which may put some women off. At our graduate fayres this year, we met a huge number of women. We now need to make sure we are getting out to the universities, talking to them and keeping them engaged.
SP - Why restrict this to younger generations? It can be a great career regardless of when you start. I didn’t come into property management till my mid 30’s and I think that the wider experience gained in life and other careers has stood me in excellent stead, bringing many transferable skills
AR - Awareness and role models are key - young women are becoming more empowered in society to push for equality, and promoting the role models who are doing great things and setting incredible examples of what can be achieved, should be showcased so the younger generation will follow.
Why did you decide property was the career for you?
SS - I enjoy problem solving, so quite early on realised that this was an industry that could continuously challenge me and provide opportunities to grow and develop. We never stay still!
KI - I have always been interested in the property market. What I like most about my job as a Property Accountant is that the property management sector presents me a wide variety of tasks and challenges on a daily basis which makes my job very interesting.
JB - For me it is about providing a good service. My job involves handling all aspects of management and my role is to make properties run as safely and efficiently as possible on behalf the owners, and to ensure that the people in my team reach their potential and feel supported and fulfilled.
If you weren’t in property, what other sector would you be in?
CO - Something as challenging and rewarding!
SP - I’d be a scuba diving instructor in Zanzibar!
KI - It is difficult to say after spending 20 years of my career in the property management sector, but if I have to pick, I would say probably in assets management sector.
Director Sue Petri explains why Rendall and Rittner decided to join forces with industry peers to encourage the Government to intervene.
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