Surveyors need to make female role models more visible, says the RICS

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The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is urging property firms in Yorkshire and Humber to make their female role models more visible, and break down any barriers that prevent them from progressing in to leadership positions.

Women are expected to make up more than a quarter of the construction workforce by 2020, up from its current level of about 14%. Latest figures from RICS reveal that just 14% of chartered surveyors in the UK are female, which is an improvement on previous years, but still demonstrates that the surveying profession has a long way to go in attracting senior female role models.

Balancing family and work commitments, as well as what often is perceived as a ‘job for men only’, are the most common barriers to progression, encountered by women in the land, property and construction sectors.

To help address these issues RICS has developed an initiative known as the Inclusive Employer Quality Mark designed to help firms – of all sizes in the land, property and construction sectors – gain a more diverse and inclusive workforce. It asks firms to pledge their commitment to adopting and continually improving across a number of key areas including recruitment and staff development. Signatories of the pledge are assessed on an ongoing basis, with RICS providing support on any areas identified as needing improvement.

Barry Cullen, RICS Diversity & Inclusion Director adds: “Over 160 organisations have become signatories of our Quality Mark, and it’s been fantastic to see many of these firms put in place, or make improvements to their mentoring schemes, with some even launching their own corporate female support networks, and many offering flexible working patterns and improved return to work programmes.

“As a profession, we are making strides in creating a more diverse and inclusive industry; 27% of our newly qualified members are female and enrolments are up by 3% on last year to 26%. This demonstrates that the land, property and construction sectors are increasingly becoming more attractive to women as a career. To ensure the industry continues to attract young female talent, firms must ensure they provide equal opportunities for all.”

To celebrate and raise the profile of young talent who are reaping the benefits of a successful career in the industry, RICS established its annual ‘Young Surveyor of the Year Awards’ (YSOYA) four years ago. These national awards celebrate the UK’s most inspirational surveyors in the UK aged 35 or under – across various sectors and disciplines – and former female winners from Yorkshire and Humber include Leanne Owen, Managing Quantity Surveyor at Faithful+Gould in Leeds.

Leanne won the overall ‘UK Young Surveyor of the Year’ title at the 2015 YSOYA. She said: “Firms with more of an equal gender balance have a competitive advantage, and I think a lot of companies are starting to realise that. We just need to get away from the stereotype that working in property or construction is all about working on building sites, and raise more awareness of the broad range of roles available for everyone.

“Property-technology – including drones and virtual reality – is revolutionising the property industry and how we work on built projects, so it’s actually a very exciting time to be joining the industry. I’ve worked on some remarkable schemes that have improved the region’s and beyond’s built environment, and had a profoundly positive impact on local communities. My Young Surveyor of the Year award win is testament to this, and I hope it inspires others to see what is achievable.”