OPINION: Investment in female-led start-ups would benefit the country’s economic future

Clare Coe

Clare Coe is co-founder of recruitment firm Madison Berkeley and has some passionately held views about the difficulties faced by women in the real-esate sector.

It is no secret that the real estate industry continues to fight against gender disparity within senior roles. At the last count there were just 22% of females at board level. Overall, the industry reports 14% female representation.

As the co-founder of real estate recruitment agency, Madison Berkeley I continue to work tirelessly to change these statistics.

Women still fight against gender bias and stereotypes. We see it in the real estate industry and it was one of the reasons we set up Madison Berkeley. Our aim has been to disrupt the bias and we are succeeding. Within the first two years of trading, 50% of our placements were female. However, there is still work to be done.

I want to see more females bringing fresh real estate companies into the sector.

In September 2018 the British Government launched the Rose review, spearheaded by NatWest chief executive of commercial and private banking, Alison Rose. It found that the advancement of female entrepreneurs could be worth £250bn to the UK economy.

Fast forward to December 2021 and the figures show that female entrepreneurs are still only contributing around a quarter of that figure. This is partly because only 16% of SMEs are led by women to date. Why is this?

Neither myself nor my co-founder Nina Zeilerbauer had children when we started our company. I decided to leave my very senior position as a top biller for a well known and well established real estate recruitment agency in London to jump into the unknown.

I had held that role for around 7 years. I took a huge financial and personal risk. From the beginning of co-founding the agency I have put in more hours than in any other role.

In 2019 a report stated that 74% of working caregivers are women. A working female who is the main caregiver is potentially less likely to take that kind of risk and be able to offer the hours needed. I want to see the government offering support, both financial and personal, to women who want to start companies. We have to make entrepreneurship attractive to women.

It has been proven that female led startups face issues with funding. We both had six months of savings to see us through setting up our business. Without those savings it would have been impossible for us to approach our new venture in the way we wanted.

This may have had an impact on the viability of it as a start up business. We were lucky we had the resources to do this because there is a severe lack of funding available to women who want to start companies.

It has been proven that women start businesses with less capital than men. A report showed that only 9 percent of startup funding went into women-led SMEs. It is important to stay positive when it comes to funding your real estate business. There are other options available and private finance and investment may be an option to consider and is available in our sector.

For us failure was not an option but it is thought to hold around two-thirds of women back as opposed to 55% of men who say they can get over failures more quickly according to a vistaprint report.

We work with a lot of female candidates who are about to go into a male-led boardroom. We focus on confidence and belief in their abilities. We rarely have to work on confidence in our male candidates. As recruitment experts we feel it is important for employers to understand that confidence does not always equal ability.

There must be more investment in female led startups to economically benefit the country’s economy going forward.

We must also tackle what entrepreneurship means and educate our young females on how they can start a successful business within our growing real estate sector.



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