Property Flash


Editor of Property Flash, Alistair Anderson sat down with Amelia Beattie, CEO of Liberty Two Degrees (L2D) about how her and other property professionals’ tireless efforts have improved the gender landscape for real estate.

January 19 2022

Alistair: How do approach a concept as big and complicated as gender diversity in South Africa?

Amelia: The key is not to get overwhelmed with the challenge. If each of us take on the challenge in a meaningful way, #OneActionAtTime, we can make an immediate change in our own spaces. The talent and capacity very much is there. We must work with what we have, acknowledging where we need to make more of an effort while standing up in action to make the required changes. It’s also a relatively small industry even if it’s an incredibly important one for South Africa’s economy and many people’s lives. There are steps which organisations can take to manage gender diversity.

Alistair: What can those people with authority do to tackle gender challenges?

Amelia: We need to be deliberate  in creating equity.  So, it goes beyond gender diversity. We want inclusivity.  This means people of all genders, races, sexualities and faiths must be able to work in real estate professionally and comfortably. I think Liberty Two Degrees (L2D) is very deliberate. As a company, we have played a significant role  in empowering more women in a male dominated industry, whilst effectively accommodating their needs in the current environment.  We have purposefully set up our offices such that they cater for a variety of needs. So, for example, we have nursing facilities for mothers who return to work and are still breastfeeding and need to express milk. These kinds of facilities also encourage people to work here and collaborate with colleagues without overlooking their needs. That’s the basis of inclusion and belonging.

Ultimately, I’d say each employer, organisation or whatever group it is, needs to create the opportunities for women. There is the opportunity to prepare, to participate, and to be present. Everyone must also move on from stereotyping. People are different regardless of their gender and each person brings a lot of, and different value to the table. The real world is finally revealing that women can do any job in property that men can.

Alistair: Is it the little things that make the difference? How do we create lasting change among listed property funds for example?

Amelia: It’s all about creating the right environment and accessible opportunities. Existing funds have big roles to play. It’s difficult to create brand new funds and companies so we really have to work with what we have. Boards for example generally do have the intention to look for available women in the industry. They also want to create bench strength. It’s key to approach women in universities and educate them about the opportunities in real estate. It’s also key to encourage women to create real estate businesses. I must also stress that the listed sector is highly visible about what it does. It has to be. I’m really pleased at how our sector is working so hard to make holistic changes.

Alistair: Tell me more about initiatives which have been created to drive diversity in the workplace.

Amelia: The Women’s Property Network (WPN) does great work in our industry. Its role is wide reaching and important. The WPN helps to train women in real estate, it runs mentorship projects and deals with issues which affect women in the workplace. It creates awareness around important causes. The United Nations Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs) help keep companies accountable to meaningful and impactful transformation, and the promotion of women empowerment strategies. L2D is a signatory of the WEPs.

Our business is one of the most inclusive in the industry. In 2022,

  • 100% promotions in 2022 were female
  • 57% of new hires in 2022 were female
  • 57% of our ExCo is represented by women
  • L2D has a female chief executive
  • 70% of our employees are women
  • Our recent Board appointments were all African females

In addition, we have an Inclusivity, Diversity and Employment Equity (IDEE) forum which meets quarterly. The purpose of the IDEE forum is to ensure gender inclusion and that every voice is represented in the business. We aim to complete an Inclusivity and Diversity workshop with our leadership team annually and we have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination.

We also have various policies prioritising our people’s rights and prohibiting discriminatory behaviours. Our human experience is the lens through which we view the improvement of our employment equity standards and guidelines, procedures and practices and the overall employee experience.

Alistair: What would be a final takeaway for our industry?

Amelia: We are all human and need to realise what comes with that. Men and woman can be parents which brings responsibilities. Mothers need maternity leave when they have children. It’s all part of what our species is. So you can’t force success at all costs, you have to be a balanced human being. Remember that nothing comes easy but that many studies have proved that companies do better when they embrace diversity. As a society and industry, we need to continue to call attention to gender transformation and ensuring the favourable participation of women within the sector. Although progress has been made in the property industry, we still have a long way to go to reach a state which is more inclusive of females in the sector.

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