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Women’s progress in real estate is at risk of stalling: here’s what the industry can do to re-energise and bring gender equity ‘within reach’.

Deloitte | UK FS Insights | April 2024

UK real estate has, over recent years, taken steps to promote a more varied community of professionals, including in the area of gender diversity. Notwithstanding, there is still a lot of progress to be made since, as one recent report noted, “white men dominate senior positions in the sector”i. The industry recognises that it needs to change. Deloitte research has found that the sector has made a lot of progress over recent years, particularly at “C-suite” and “Senior Leadership” levels, and we anticipate that further progress in the representation of women at these levels will be made out to 2031. Frustratingly, however, progress at the “Next Generation” level has been much more challenging and – without action from the industry – we fear that it will remain stalled into the 2030s.

This matters. The industry now recognises the diversity and inclusion imperative: for investors, stakeholders, clients and, especially, employees. Moreover, in the UK, with its tight labour market, talent is the most important factor facing real estate firms, according to Deloitte’s 2024 Commercial Real Estate Outlookii. Quite apart from equality, the industry can ill-afford to neglect a valuable source of talent.

In this article, we outline the progress made to date and anticipated representation out to 2031. We also benchmark how well (or not) real estate is doing compared to the other Financial Services (FS) sectors of banking and capital markets (BCM), insurance and investment management (IM). We then offer a framework that firms can use to advance diversity and inclusion and give examples of the actions that progressive firms are already taking.

Progress made (or not)

Deloitte US launched a research project on gender equity in FS, Within Reach, in 2019iii. In 2022, this US study was extended to include women in financial services leadership roles globallyiv

Within Reach explores the proportion of women in three key cohorts: C-suite, Senior Leadership and Next Generation. C-suite is defined as “Chief X Officer” roles at the corporate leadership level, where X could be Executive, Financial, Operating, Marketing, etc. “Senior Leaders” are defined as line-of-business leaders, division heads, or regional leaders and are typically one-to-three levels below the C-suite. Next Generation comprises all manager and equivalent level roles below senior leadership.

Women’s representation within senior leadership in the UK has improved in both absolute and relative terms (see figure 1 and figure 2). The data from Within Reachv shows that it increased from just over one in five (22.0%) to more than one in four (26.2%) between 2016 and 2022.

Figure 1: Within Reach, Deloitte, Women in Financial Services, UK Real Estate, 2016-22

Figure 2: Within Reach, Deloitte, Women in Financial Services, BCM, IM and Insurance 2022

Real estate fares relatively well compared to other UK FS sectors in the ‘Next Generation’ cohort, with women accounting for almost a third (30.1%) of staff, compared to the average across all four sectors of 28.5%. Nonetheless, the trajectory is concerning, with women’s representation slipping from 31.7% since 2016.

At the C-suite level, women now represent one-in-seven, or 14.5% of the total, against fewer than one in ten in 2016. Nonetheless, this progress still leaves the sector trailing the other three FS subsectors, and well below the UK average female c-suite representation in FS, at 17.2%, or more than one in six.

As our figures show, the proportion of women falls as they ascend the corporate hierarchy and the number of available roles begins to wane.  

As CBRE’s Global Head of Loan Services, Clarence Dixon told Bisnow, “what you often see is that when people are in middle management, they are not ready to step up to senior management, and so companies have to recruit from outside.” He adds, “We have to put more focus on middle management, training, mentoring to make sure people can reach that senior level.

”The UK’s talent imperative


Figure 3: 2024 Global Commercial Real Estate Outlook, Financial Services 2024 Real Estate Survey extract, Deloitte Center for Financial Services

Q. Which poses the greatest risk to your institution’s financial performance over the next 12 to 18 months?

UK real estate leaders are worried about talent (Figure 3vi ). Responding to Deloitte’s 2024 CFO Survey, which polled real estate and investing CFO’s across the globevii. UK executives named talent acquisition as their top macro concern for the coming year (represented by the darker shades of green in the far-right column). They are prioritising accelerating upskilling and reskilling initiatives (45%), adding employee health and wellness benefits (43%) and accelerating career growth opportunities (40%), as a result of this talent imperativeviii . These initiatives, while good for all staff, also represent ways in which real estate leaders can plan to support women’s progression through the ranks, maintaining and accelerating momentum in women’s representation in real estate.

Deloitte’s research also finds strong evidence of a separate, ‘multiplier’ effect in FS firms. Specifically, the research found that, for each individual woman added to the C-suite level of an organisation, three-or-more are added to the senior leadership ranks.  

UK real estate leaders are already focused on talent management. Our findings on this ‘multiplier effect’ suggest that, adding gender equality to the mix would be a sound move. Further researchxi  shows that initiatives, such as those outlined below, can lock in female talent for longer, helping to move the needle on gender equity further.

Leading by example


Some leading organisations, including real estate firms, have implemented policies to support women throughout their careers. One firm extended the age of talent programmes from 35 to 45 to accommodate those who have taken breaks in their career. Others are offering programmes to help their employees manage and balance their careers and parental responsibilities. A key example of this is the adoption of flexible and hybrid working, supported by new regulations which come into effect on 6 April 2024x . This has been a game changer for parents of young children whose childcare facilities often have strict pick-up times and face significant costs if these deadlines are missed.

Some firms are offering shared parental leave, allowing time for both mother and father to establish a relationship with their new child. Research suggests that fathers who take time off after the birth of their child take on a greater share of childcare and household responsibilities than those that do not, report a better work-life balance, a more satisfying marriage and a closer relationship with their children.xi

Others are focusing on mentoring initiatives. One firm brought together professionals from across the real estate market, giving younger female professionals access to role models, thereby helping to offset the threat of “imposter syndrome”.xii  One real estate firm in London has also launched a companywide initiative that prevents its employees participating in an event of three or more speakers where none of them is female. 

Looking Forward


We expect strong growth in the representation of women in UK real estate across the C-suite and Senior Leadership cohorts, (figure 4). Worryingly, the proportion of women in the “Next Generation” cohort is expected to stagnate.

Figure 4: Advancing women leaders in UK Financial Services, predicted growth in female representation across three cohorts, 2022 to 2031 Xiii

Real estate fares well when compared to the other FS subsectors, reporting the highest forecast level of female representation in the Senior Leadership and Next Generation cohorts. Although it is important to highlight that the 30.8% that is forecast in 2031 is below levels recorded in 2016 (see figure 4 above). We are forecasting that female representation will increase in the C-Suite, though to a lower level than the three other FS subsectors.

Deloitte’s 2023 global assessment on advancing women leaders in real estatexiv introduces a framework laying out a series of steps for Financial Services Institution leaders to protect and accelerate progress already made. Deloitte Within Reach CARE framework offers considerations for FS firms (figure 5). It includes: Collection of data related to achieving gender parity; Assessment of the data to set measurable goals and create accountability; Reporting of progress to boost transparency and trust, and Engagement with stakeholders to demonstrate commitment to gender diversity inside and outside the organisation.

Figure 5: The Within Reach CARE Framework (Collect, Assess, Report, Eng

While these initiatives might feel daunting and their benefits uncertain, the same was true of sustainability initiatives like the BREEAM, LEED and MEES regulationsxv when they were first introduced. Some real estate leaders who embraced these regulations, and adapted their investment strategies early on, have experienced reputational and financial benefits over timexvi. We believe that leaders who champion gender equality, putting robust offerings in place to help close the gender representation gap, will enjoy similar benefits.

The mission to close the gender equity gap is also a mission to create more sustainable, attractive, and profitable real estate organisations for the future.


Deloitte US launched Within Reach in 2019, with a report entitled Leadership, representation, and gender equity in financial services: Within Reachxviii.  Its intention was to spark conversations around the progress made by financial institutions to achieve gender equity in leadership roles. In 2022, this US study was extended to include women in financial services leadership roles around the world. The latest, 2023, update included 6,629 UK FSIs out of a total global sample of more than 68,000 firms.


The underlying dataset was compiled by our colleagues in the Deloitte Center for Financial Services (DCFS), based on their analysis of data from BoardEx LLC, using the United Nations Statistical Division’s alignment of countries and territories within regions. The analysis presented here is based on an extract from this body of research



iReal estate and socio-economic diversity: shaping where we live, work and play — Bridge Group ( Word - REAL ESTATE Report SUMMARY FINAL.docx (

ii2024 commercial real estate outlook | Deloitte Insights

iiiImproving leadership outcomes for women in financial services | Deloitte Insights

iv Gender diversity in global financial services | Deloitte Insights

vGender diversity in global financial services | Deloitte Insights

viFigure 2 Legend:

vii 2024 commercial real estate outlook | Deloitte Insights

750 CFO’s globally were surveyed in Deloitte’s 2024 commercial real estate outlook.

viiiCFO Survey Question: Which of the following actions is your company most likely to take over the next 12-18 months to attract and retain talent?

ixOther research is as follows:

xNew flexible working laws: an employer’s guide (

xiShared care, fathers' involvement in care and family well-being outcomes: a literature review (HTML) - GOV.UK (

xiiPer Miriam Webster, Imposter syndrome is defined as:

“persistent doubt concerning one's abilities or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one's ongoing success.”

xiiiThese figures are taken from the UK breakdown of data taken from the Gender diversity in global financial services | Deloitte Insights

xivWomen leaders in financial services | Deloitte Insights

xvBREEAM – Defined as Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method.

  • Designations are as follows: unclassified, pass, good, very good, excellent and outstanding.
  • For more information please see:
  • How BREEAM Works - BRE Group
  • LEED – Defined as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
  • Designations are as follows: certified, silver, gold and platinum.
  • For more information please see:
  • LEED professional credentials | U.S. Green Building Council (
  • MEES – Defined as Minimum Energy Standards.
  • Tightening MEES regulations means that any commercial property which does not have a minimum EPC rating of ‘B’ by 2030 will not be lettable to new or existing tenants and therefore will lose its revenue.
  • For more information please see:

Non-domestic Private Rented Sector minimum energy efficiency standards: EPC B implementation - GOV.UK

xviSentiment here was taken from the Winter 2023 London Office Crane Survey Developer Survey results:

Two major developers in London said that they “are not concerned about meeting the 2030 MEES guidelines as (we) had already incorporated those standards into (our) development strategy.”

xviiLeadership, representation, and gender equity in financial services: Within ReachThe author would also like to thank Rob Stubbs and Saurav Saha for their contributions to this article.

Rosie Haigh

UK Real Estate Insights Lead

Rosie is a manager with our FS Growth Insights business where she leads the UK Real Estate Insights team. She is an office market specialist with experience in European and North American real estate markets. Rosie joined Deloitte in April 2023 where she joined from office agency research. Rosie leads the London Office Crane Survey as well a collaborating across the business on real estate insights eminence.

Margaret Doyle

Chief Insights Officer and Partner

Margaret is Deloitte UK’s Chief Insights Officer and Partner, Financial Services (FS). She sits on Deloitte’s UK FS Executive, and also leads on Eminence on the Deloitte North South Europe FS Executive. She and her team have produced reports on innovation and disruption in banking, insurance and investment management, culture in banking and talent in banking and insurance, and publish the bi-annual London Office Crane Survey. Margaret started her career with McKinsey & Company, before moving into financial journalism. She covered business and finance for The Economist and The Daily Telegraph for a decade, and for two years edited Global Agenda, the magazine of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos. She then covered investment banking for the award-winning Reuters Breakingviews. Margaret presented several flagship current affairs programmes for the BBC, including Today, The World Tonight and Analysis on Radio 4; The World Today on the World Service and Wake Up to Money on Five Live. A native of County Wexford, Margaret studied economics at Trinity College, Dublin, where she was an Entrance Exhibitioner and Foundation Scholar. She earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School, (HBS), which she attended on a Fulbright Scholarship, and from which she graduated as a Baker Scholar (top 5% of the class). She has served on the HBS European Advisory Board or its predecessor since its inception in 2003, and is a British-American Project Fellow.