The European listed real estate industry is improving the gender diversity of its management teams with women making up 28% of company board memberships last year, compared with 22% in 2015, according to a new study from the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA) presented at its annual conference in Berlin.
Based on its sustainability best practices recommendations (sBPR) metrics on gender diversity, disclosed for the first time in 2017, EPRA assessed a total of 140 companies, including members and FTSE EPRA Nareit Developed Europe Index constituents, that represent a total market capitalisation of €289 bn.
These were also compared with a sample group of 94 firms in 2015, corresponding to €229 bn.
'The listed real estate industry has long struggled with the issue of attracting talented women and members of minority groups into the ranks of its managerial leadership. So as one of only eight woman chief executives in the European industry, I am pleased to be leading EPRA’s Diversity Programme, which is aiming to provide guidance on how to improve the situation,' said Helen Gordon, CEO of Grainger, the UK’s largest listed residential real estate company.
The EPRA research found that 34 companies, corresponding to 50% of the study’s total market capitalisation, implemented policies to promote diversity including by gender, ethnicity and talent potential in the workforce but only 11 firms (22% of market cap) have set targets for diversity.
According to EPRA, considering the compelling evidence that diversity enhances innovation and drives market growth, there is a need to focus on helping companies establish such diversity practices at an early stage in their evolution.
The best performing countries in terms of women in executive management are the Nordics and France, with respect to their overall market size. The proportion in Swedish companies is 45%, Norway 38%, Finland 31% and France 28%. The relatively small Italian and Irish markets also score highly on a percentage basis at 36% and 30% respectively.
These are followed by the UK at 25%, Spain 24% and Belgium 23%. The Netherlands trails at 15%.
Germany, which has recently emerged as the largest listed real estate market in Europe overall in 2018, ahead of the UK and France, has yet to match this achievement in gender diversity, as women only hold 12% of executive management positions.