By Anjana Bali
“If you want something said, ask a man and if you want something done, ask a woman” ~ Margaret Thatcher
The workforce equation in the real estate sector, essentially considered to be a male-dominated industry, is also not immune to the change the entire world is facing, as more and more women are entering the industry in key capacities. As the sector becomes organized, more companies are considering increasing their share of female employees for roles such as operations and on-site project execution which have so far been male-dominated bastions.
Earlier, women were only seen to fill up the clerical and office roles. However, since women have exceptional abilities like being creative, logical reasoning, handling stress, building relationships and negotiating skills, all of these have helped them in taking on the top roles as well in this sector.
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In fact, the sector should employ more women as they are exceptional in gaining trust and being multi-tasked by nature, which is an important factor for the sector. With the right skill-set and work environment to nurture female employees, the gender-balanced teams are capable of delivering and achieving more for the organization.
According to estimates, if the real estate services sector has to annually grow at 30-36 percent until 2020, there is a clear imperative to bring more women into the sector, and enhancing their role both qualitatively and quantitatively.
In the lighter vein, for all you know, with more women in the industry, the sector may not even need regulators as being envisaged under RERA.
Why just real estate, in fact in India, the gender gap is pervasive across all sectors. In the last few years, several reports, starting from the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) 2015 Gender Gap Report, have said that the country still has miles to go in bridging the gender gap in the areas of health, education and economics, if not politics.
The benefits of achieving gender parity in India are well documented: An International Monetary Fund study said India’s GDP can expand by 27% if the number of women workers increases to the same level as that of men. A 2015 McKinsey report gives a more ambitious projection: India could boost 2025 GDP by 60% by promoting gender diversity at work.
The limited participation of women means that half of the Indian talent pool is not being tapped. Accessing this talent pool and increasing participation of women in economic activity is essential for sustainable growth. The importance for diversity at the workplace, therefore, increases multifold. It not only brings in new perspectives and improves the quality of decision making, but also helps understand and meet the needs of our customers.
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At the same time, the government should also take more steps towards empowerment of women in the country. One of the ways to promote will be to increase their share in policy decision making and projecting the same. While I am personally not in favour of any reservation, be it for women or on any other criterion, giving more opportunities to women, promoting them on merits, and giving them platform to show their mettle is the need of the hour. First and foremost, the psychology of the people in general and particularly of the top in corporates / governments needs to change. Make no distinction on the basis of gender and see what wonders women can do. As a matter of fact, if the gender bias is removed, there will never be any need for reservation.
(The author is Head-Legal, Emaar India. The views are personal)