When 21 of the property industry’s most senior leaders across development and construction, investment, funds management and agency sectors get together you can expect they mean business.

Recognising the gender imbalance in the historically male-dominated property industry, the Property Council established the Property Male Champions of Change (PMCC) last year; committing to making a tangible and lasting impact on the representation of women in leadership in the property industry.

While this commitment to change is a step in the right direction, achieving gender balance will undoubtedly take time.

The report released by the group last week included research conducted by Ernst & Young.  The survey of more than 3,800 employees in 18 property organisations found that despite men and women in property having the same aspirations for leadership, women are less likely to progress from manager level to senior leadership in the property industry.

The research also found male leaders still outnumbered female leaders by more than three to one, with 62 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men identifying the industry’s ‘boys’ club mentality’ as the number one barrier to women entering the property industry.  This, along with ‘inequalities in pay’ and ‘lack of diversity in senior leadership’ were identified as the top three barriers to women succeeding in the industry.

What’s worth noting is that these challenges faced by the property industry are not unique. ‘Pay equity’, ‘attitudes towards women in leadership’ and ‘attitudes towards employees working flexibly’ are highlighted in conversations we are having with exceptional female talent as being key aspects that need to change to support recruitment across other historically male-dominated industries too such as engineering, manufacturing and logistics.

The good news is we’re seeing positive changes taking place across the board. Increasingly organisations are saying to us: we understand the benefits of having gender balance in our workplace; we’re actively addressing the historical imbalance in our workforce; we have reworked our Employee Value Proposition so that it is equally appealing to both males and females; and we expect you to show us a balanced shortlist of candidates for every role.

In fact, many of the businesses we work with across Sydney and Melbourne have identified gender balance as a top priority.  Open talent briefs are becoming the norm so that at any point we identify a potentially suitable candidate, there are serious conversations taking place.

While in recruitment we advocate organisations choosing the best candidate for a position regardless of gender, we also understand the far reaching benefits that gender balance has in the workplace.  The Workplace Gender Equality Agency(WGEA) cites a considerable body of research that links gender equality and better organisational performance.  And while there are a number of reasons to explain this link, according to WGEA diversity brings together varied perspectives, produces a more holistic analysis of the issues an organisation faces and spurs greater effort, leading to improved decision-making.

La Trobe Business School study published in March this year also ruled out coincidental links between financial performance and women on boards.  The study, which examined around 300 of Australia’s top 500 listed companies between 2005 and 2011, showed those with more women on the board achieved higher financial returns.

So to the leaders in the property industry advocating for change, we’re seeing an exceptional pipeline of female talent with serious ambition ready to move forward with you.

Join the conversation on LinkedIn and share your experiences of how organisations are encouraging gender balance in the workplace.