International Women's Day 2019
On this International Women’s Day, I want to say thank you to all the men and women in property working to balance our sector. On Tuesday, 5th March, Ladies in Real Estate hosted our inaugural 50/50 Dinner atop City Hall. Our wonderful sponsors helped us balance the room with 50 men and 50 women coming out in celebration of diversity and gender equality in property.
Below is the message I shared with our guests. If you’d like to be a sponsor next year or host one of our monthly breakfasts, including the newly launched quarterly 50/50 Breakfast, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the 50/50 Dinner:
I am so thrilled to welcome you to the inaugural 50/50 Dinner! It was scheduled for this week to coincide with International Women’s Day, which has the theme of Balance for Better this year, very much in line with the message of our dinner. The mission of the 50/50 dinner is to bring together both genders in equal proportion as a way of promoting support and opportunity for both men and women within property in the UK. Our committee’s goal is to encourage everyone to work together to build relationships and recognize each other’s contributions to the industry, in other words, to Balance for Better.
So what is LiRE and how is one dinner going to change anything?
During my time in New York I had been organizing weekend brunches for women in the industry, starting with my friends from grad school.
Ladies in Real Estate in London took shape as an informal networking club after a group of about 8 of us went out for drinks back in November 2016. Each month since, LiRE has successfully attracted larger groups of women from across the industry for relaxed socializing over breakfast. The club now has over 350 names and growing. Since starting LiRE I’ve received lots of recommendations on what to do with the group beyond the monthly breakfasts, but the dinner was the first one that stuck as I had been considering ways to reach across the “gender aisle” and invite the support of men into the group.
The 50/50 Dinner is the result of our desire to try out a very simple idea in order to make a bold statement, which is to turn the current conversation on gender equality on its head and say that both men and women should be acknowledged, celebrated, supported, promoted, and hopefully we can all come together and appreciate each other equally. Our industry’s gender split should resemble this room’s. I’m not here to tell you where we’re falling short, but to encourage you to do better and not just talk about it. I’d like to applaud those who refuse to participate on homogeneous panels. And the portfolio managers who have been demanding to see more balanced senior leadership in their investment managers. These things are brave and time-consuming, but they mean so much to the next generation, so thank you.
The dinner is organized with the hope that if we normalize equal representation at industry events, we can move closer towards gender parity in the workplace. It is also meant to celebrate the great work that men from across the industry have been doing to support this.
To enact real change is no easy task, but we don’t work in an easy industry, so surely, we can do this… whilst also solving the housing crisis. Coming together honestly, and deliberately pursuing equality and fairness will ensure that the new generations coming up the ranks will experience a more balanced industry.
Both men and women need access to opportunities, but perhaps it’s been historically easier for men given the availability of role models. I personally don’t think it has anything to do with ability; simply that structural change takes a long time and has to be intentional. I also think that the way we’ve been talking about balancing gender in our industry has taken on a negative connotation at times where some women don’t want to only meet women and some men feel threatened or resentful because there’s nothing communicating hope to them in their pursuit of a meaningful career. Man or woman, working in property, anywhere in the world, is a tough gig. Everyone in this room knows the qualities needed to succeed and how important it is to network. Unfortunately, at times that has been harder for women and part of the mission of this dinner is to give both men and women the tools to address that imbalance.
With that in mind, I would like to introduce a new Ladies in Real Estate initiative to carry on the message of the dinner, namely, a quarterly 50/50 breakfast starting in June.
Thank You to our lovely committee – a group of fabulous women from across the industry who stuck it out through the ups and downs of pulling together something we all believed in – Marie Harley, Leia De Guzman, Nathalie Duncan-Sletten, Kate Phillips, Elissa Borthwick, Kate McQueen-Peers, Christine McGowan, and Tabitha Perry.
Massive thank you as well to our industry supporters and senior committee – Lisa Lafave, Jamie Ratcliff, Bella Peacock, Michela Hancock, Alex Notay, Lisa Taylor, Rachel Hanke, and Rupert Parker.
Thank you also to our guest of honour, Rosemary Scanlon, for flying over from NY to attend this dinner; thank you for all of the kindness and support that you’ve shown me since I was one of your graduate students. Thank you to Lawrence Bowles from Savills’ Research team for his wonderful interactive poll.
Thank You to our Sponsors for your overwhelming support: Long Harbour, Eastdil Secured, Paul Hastings, PFP Capital, Greystar, Greenberg Traurig, Langham Hall, Oxford Properties, NIAM, Allsop, and Clearbell Capital.
Also thank you to CREW for showing support to another women’s network and sponsoring our welcome drinks.
All of your generosity has helped us launch this wonderful initiative and all proceeds from the event will be donated in aid of the London Homeless Charities Group, an initiative launched by the Mayor of London
Finally, big Thank You to the Greater London Authority for hosting us at City Hall and Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, James Murray, for welcoming our initiative.
You can find photos from the event across Twitter/ Instagram/ LinkedIn with the event hashtag #the5050dinner and you can follow us at @LadiesinRE (Twitter/ IG). Find out more about Ladies in Real Estate at ladiesinrealestate.co.uk.