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Being a woman in once ruled by "old boys" real estate industry


Inara Borochov is a real estate investment professional in Israel with experience in the US, Europe and Asian markets.


INARA, YOU WORK IN ONE OF THE MOST MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRIES. HOW IT'S REALLY LIKE TO BE A WOMAN IN REAL ESTATE?

Real estate is relatively new asset class compared to more traditional stocks and bonds. It is a narrow industry, until recently there were few real estate oriented university programs, and usually economics or finance graduates were those who were pursuing career in real estate. After completing my MsE degree in Switzerland in 2012, I came back to Azerbaijan and started my career as a real estate investment analyst, I was the first woman in the country that has ever analysed global real estate markets. Now I am developing this career path in Israel. Industry is dominated by men, especially at senior positions.


According to Preqin real estate database statistics, just 20% of employees in real estate industry are female. But it is getting more and more usual to meet women real estate professionals. In fact, right now in my team there are more female employees rather than males and some of them at senior positions. However, based on my experience, in majority of real estate companies around the world, women professionals are still underrepresented especially at higher ranks and one can see more women in investor relations/marketing roles of real estate industry, compared to real estate development or asset management related jobs - investor relations/marketing positions have the highest rates of gender equality.

Real estate industry is dominated by men, but as companies grow and develop their corporate culture, there is an urge for diversity, creativity, where women competitiveness comes in.

There is an increasing number of repeating every year women-only events – summits, forums, some are arranged as part of top global real estate conferences, such as “Women tea party” at PREA. They are made exclusively for women to build network and give motivation to grow and interconnect. To conclude, I would say that a gender imbalance issue is a matter of time and as markets get more institutionalised there are more and more women deeply involved in the real estate investment management process.


WHAT IS THE REASON FOR LACK OF WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS? WOMEN AVOID ENTERING MALE-DOMINATED ENVIRONMENTS OR THEY ARE NOT GIVEN A CHANCE TO REACH SENIOR POSITIONS?

I think the answer is that alternative investment universe including real estate is relatively young, it started to become popular only in the end of 1990s in US and later in the rest of the world, therefore until recently no one considered it as a good substitute to stocks and bonds and there was not enough demand for real estate positions as market was small.

Tough and competitive real estate market was ruled by “old boys” which limited women participation.

Now real estate industry is getting more institutionalised, management companies raise larger real estate funds as large capital volume is chasing global real estate markets, there is a large spectrum of job opportunities becoming available in real estate ranging from research, valuation, investment analysis, brokerage, marketing job positions that must be fulfilled and women are getting actively involved in those.


IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, DO WOMEN OFTEN FACE A GENDER WAGE GAP?

I didn’t came across the issue of gender wage gap among employees of the same rank. But as I mentioned previously, there is a larger portion of men in senior positions rather than women.


IN IDEAL SITUATION, WHERE WOMEN WOULD BE ACTIVE ON ALL LEVELS OF BUSINESS STRUCTURE, INCLUDING BOARDROOMS, HOW WOULD THIS IMPACT THE REAL ESTATE COMPANIES AND THE INDUSTRY IN GENERAL?

In most of the giant real estate companies sales/marketing positions are taken by female professionals which in my opinion may be related to the fact that

women cope better with clients, they demonstrate higher level of empathy, patience, persistence which contribute to higher client satisfaction.

In addition, keeping work and personal life in balance, women usually have better multitasking skills which is essential across all areas of this industry. I meet talented women at mid and junior positions that have a huge potential to step to the executive levels in the future and lead to the prosperity of real estate management companies.

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