A report from the Property Council of Australia and Ernst & Young (EY) has found that companies failing to embrace gender diversity are missing out on an opportunity to lift its financial performance.

The report, The next big deal is on. Property industry, where are you on diversity , tracks the industry’s performance on a gender ‘smart curve’ developed by EY which helps businesses measure the maturity of their diversity strategies.

“We believe the majority of companies remain stuck at the ‘knowing’ or compliance end of the gender diversity scale rather than tipping towards true ‘understanding’,” says EY.

“[The property industry] can stay in its current status as a male-dominated industry, with a handful of women in Executive leadership positions or it can ‘tip’ – to greater profits and better returns for investors.”

EY argues that if gender diversity is pursued to the same degree of aggressiveness it takes when closing deals, the financial benefits could be substantial.

"The business case for women in leadership gets better every year: women bring improved decision making at the top, more creativity and innovation, and better problem solving, stemming from greater cognitive diversity. Women also improve the ecosystem, because company leaders better match the profile of customers and employees. When three or more women make it to the top team, a company’s organisational health appears to improve on every one of the nine dimensions."

The research shows that a study of 160 Real Estate Investment Trust (REITS) found that those with at least one woman on their board for more than three years tended to produce annual total shareholder return growth rates that were 2.6 percentage points higher than their peers during the period.

It also notes that by 2028, women are forecast to control close to 75 per cent of discretionary spending worldwide, and in retail and residential property purchasing decisions, are more likely to promote or detract from a brand through their social networks.

“Gender diversity is a strategy, not an issue and must be seen by the industry as an important investment opportunity,” said EY Real Estate Leader Doug Bain.

In-depth interviews with 12 male and seven female c-suite and property executives across 15 top 200 ASX listed organisations were conducted as part of the research. The full report can be found HERE.