For International Women’s Day 2022, Guy Windsor-Lewis, chief executive and founder of Locale, explores how women have contributed to shaping real estate into the service-driven sector it aspires to be.

In the early days of Locale, there wasn’t a single female building manager amongst the hundreds of schemes the Locale portal served. However, over the years, there has been progress in the diversification of people within real estate. This is down to the massive – albeit slow – transformation that the sector is currently undergoing, where roles, responsibilities, and priorities are quite different today than they were 17 years ago.

New roles, new people
As real estate takes greater steps to become more involved in providing sufficient building management and engagement, we have seen an increase in female presence and representation. The approach to becoming service-driven has allowed diverse talent to shine as property management is no longer a narrow search for, lack of a better word, a ‘handyman’. Managing people’s expectations has become the new purpose of property management, and women are flourishing. Unique roles are cropping up each year that focus on customer service and management, front-of-house, and community engagement, roles that women are gravitating towards. It’s encouraging to see women not only become a bigger presence in the industry but actively take it in a much-needed direction. By creating opportunities that search for new characteristics and attitudes, real estate has caught up modern expectations and standards.

Balance breaks the bias
Balance is key to innovation and progression. At Locale, recruitment is not an afterthought, as bias tends to happen when we covet ourselves. To break this tradition, I look for traits, skills, and experiences that I don’t possess, and surround myself with a balanced team of professionals and personalities who contribute to making Locale innovative, inclusive, and drive sustainable ideas and practices. I’ve achieved a dynamic and diverse team, with women making up 47% of Locale’s staff and now representing 56% of the senior leadership.

Listen, learn, change
For me, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the fantastic achievements, contributions, and strides that women have made to the world, and I’m proud to see the change women have driven in real estate. Equally, IWD is a stark reminder of the daily struggles women face, from pay disparity, to unsolicited attention, to the gaslighting that gender inequality is non-existent and to the dismissive attitude toward these issues in general. We must continue to break our bias’ and challenge old perceptions by listening to those who are experiencing the other end of it and taking it seriously. Tech has always been seen as a trailblazer and it should be no different when it comes to gender equality.

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