What Women Want In The Workplace To Drive Career Success


The Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) recently partnered up in Singapore to determine what can be done to foster women’s career success.

The result of their discussions was a report, developed by global professional services firm EY, entitled Advancing Women in Real Estate which focussed on creating diverse and inclusive workplaces for women in Asia Pacific.

The research for the report drew from a survey of nearly 300 women who were real estate and development professionals in Australia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

These locations were chosen because they have the largest concentration of women working in real estate in the Asia Pacific region.

The WLI also conducted numerous one-on-one interviews with employees at major real estate and development organisations to developed a case study in each of the four locations.
Key findings from the study

Conflict with family commitments is seen as the main barrier to women’s ability to achieve success
More than half of survey respondents indicated that the tension between workplace commitments and family commitments is the main barrier that prevents women from achieving professional success. Hong Kong had the highest percentage of respondents (60 percent) that deemed this conflict to be the number-one barrier. The case study on Shanghainese company Powerlong noted that they are deploying broader, more formal solutions directly aimed at working mothers, including on-site nursery services, breastfeeding facilities and an organic garden.
Fifty percent said that being formally provided with generous family leave and workplace flexibility is critical to their career success
However, a large percentage indicated that they did not receive these benefits, except in Australia, whose organisation highlighted in the case study said it had flexibility initiatives in place.
Informal support systems at work play a key role in women’s professional success
Seventy-three per cent said that having relationships inside their organisation as well as finding senior-level sponsors within their organisation who advocate for them was critical to their success. In Australia, for example, a case study was conducted at Mirvac and demonstrated how the company’s national marketing manager credited the support of her current manager, who understood her need to balance work and family, as being integral to her career progression and she has implemented an informal flexibility program within her own team resulting in positive impacts to the business.
Only 47% aspire to jobs in the C-suite or running their own business
The data revealed significant differences depending on the respondent’s location. In Singapore and Australia, 58 per cent and 62 per cent of women respectively surveyed were striving for the C-suite or entrepreneurs/sole proprietors. In Hong Kong, this number was 44 per cent, while in China it was 23 per cent.

The study also developed recommendations that organisations could adopt to create more inclusive workplaces. These recommendations include: 

  • Providing challenging job assignments

  • Create a fair, objective and engaging culture

  • Offering flexibility

  • Make mentoring and sponsorship of women a priority

  •  Invest in training to drive change


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