The real estate industry has traditionally been seen as the preserve of men but companies operating in the sector have begun to take their first steps on the path to greater inclusivity by busting stereotypes and increasing the participation of women in the workforce.
Structural engineers, shop floor managers, architects, designers, urban planners, corporate managers, executives – women today are successfully working in a variety of roles across the real estate space. But while representation of women in the workforce, including in previously male-dominated roles, has certainly increased, it is still only the start of the pursuit of greater diversity.
Social attitudes and conditioning are difficult to change and have traditionally been among the greatest obstacles to greater female participation in the sector. But, while the attitudes of an entire society might be difficult to change on an individual level, companies should nevertheless pull what levers they can to begin effecting a shift and encourage more women to take up jobs in the space.
One such lever they can control is pay parity.
Gender Pay Parity is one metric that organizations absolutely must internalise. The concept is simple – men and women doing the same job are paid the same. Yet, it has traditionally been standard practice to pay women less than their male counterparts. Although smaller than earlier, the pay gap between men and women continues to persist.
The encouraging thing is that India Inc is moving towards closing the gap. Employers across industries have started to recognize the importance of gender pay parity and are increasingly taking measures to address the issue. The Global Gender Gap Report 2022, by the World Economic Forum found that the share of women legislators, senior officials and managers in India increased from 14.6% to 17.6% in 2022, and the share of women as professional and technical workers grew from 29.2% to 32.9%. The report also found that the gender parity score for estimated earned income has improved over the year. India also displayed the most significant, positive growth in Economic Participation and Opportunity for women in the country. The thing is, boosting the participation of women in the
workforce will just like that unlock a greater level of productivity. This higher productivity will ultimately trickle down to the bottom line thereby boosting profitability and more than making up for paying women employees higher wages.
This is because equal pay will not only bring more women into the workforce, but it will also act as a stimulant for workplace engagement and productivity. If employees feel they are undervalued and discriminated against, it can lead to low morale, motivation, and reduced output. On a macro level this could mean the difference between India’s economy continuing to grow robustly or economic growth slowing to a crawl. Decreasing productivity, could potentially have a ruinous effect on our economic growth.
Of course, equal pay is just one of the levers a company can pull and a gender pay parity environment must be supported by other measures that encourage diversity. These include incorporating a woman friendly workplace and work culture that is lived and breathed by the highest levels of management. It also includes gender agnostic hiring policies, a workplace with a true meritocracy, where the best person for the role, based on their skills, expertise and competence, gets the job, regardless of gender. An organisation must also go beyond just writing policies. Even the perception of a pay gap, if there seemingly isn’t one, must still be addressed. This can be done by increasing the level and depth of engagement with employees, and reassuring them of the initiatives that the organization is taking. An open communication channel will always keep employees assured, and will also serve as a feedback loop.
In conclusion let me leave you with this quote from tennis legend Billie Jean King who fought for pay parity her whole career and saw her efforts pay off with at least the Grand Slams paying men and women players the same prize money: “Everyone thinks women should be thrilled when we get crumbs and I want women to have the cake, the icing and the cherry on top too.”