Gender balance in property development and beyond

March is International Women’s History Month and through this column, I would like to pay tribute to the women who are making a difference in the field of property development and real estate, in the world and here in the Philippines. 

There is new data coming from a survey done by consultancy firm Grant Thornton from October to December 2020. The Grant Thornton’s International Business Report states that almost half (48 percent) of senior leadership positions in mid-market businesses in the Philippines are now held by women. This is, in fact, the highest percentage among the 29 large economies surveyed. This figure is also higher than the 2020 report’s 43 percent and the 35 percent proportion from 10 years ago.

When I came to the Philippines some years ago, I was impressed to see that there were, indeed, plenty of women in top leadership positions. It is extremely good for any country to have women leading in various sectors, and I think that this is something that should not be taken lightly.

It is great that gender balance in Philippine business is happening without the government having to do much in terms of policy-making. In other countries like Italy, for example, we have what we call the quote rosa (pink quota). The Italian government requires public or listed and government organizations to have a specific percentage of female representation on organizational boards.

For many countries, it is not so easy to put women in top business and government posts. We’ve never had a female prime minister in Italy, for example, whereas the Philippines already had two female presidents: Gloria Arroyo and Cory Aquino.

At Italpinas Development Corp. (IDC), the property development company that I run together with my Filipino business partner Jojo Leviste, women are the majority. Although some might think that the field of real estate development, including architecture and the construction business, is generally male-driven, one will find plenty of women in high positions.

Gender balance in any organization is always a plus because men and women think and act differently—equal representation is needed for better decision-making processes. In my experience, women are extremely reliable, hardworking, strong, driven, and in some cases, competitive. They are focused on details and are able to manage stress well. It is in their nature to take care of family, children and run their household efficiently, that is why I think management and leadership abilities are naturally embedded in them. 

We can support women by making sure there are no obstacles related to gender toward their path to progress. The Philippines is a role model for other countries in this regard.

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