7 Mar 2024

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress.

Only through strategic investment can we create real opportunities to accelerate the progress of women. The benefits of doing so are vital to not only the professional but also the personal and collective development of women.

At Urbis and Cistri, we are making strides to accelerate the progress of our female employees through real investment in initiatives such as SOAR, a sponsorship program designed to connect women to senior roles in our organisation, as well as investing in policies and benefits that support gender equity and remove some of the common barriers that can have an acute impact on women in the workplace.

I truly believe that one of the best ways to support other women is to amplify their voices.

Carmen Gum View Profile

It is through real investment that we can cultivate a safe environment for women to belong and reach their potential. 

We spoke to women across Urbis and Cistri to get their take on the importance of investing in women in the workplace and how we can continue to improve our commitment to accelerating women.

Here are some of the themes that we uncovered.

One thing that has stuck with me since I joined Cistri is the culture of collaboration.

Lois Belle Wong View Profile

Providing access to networks and resources that allow women to feel seen, heard, and acknowledged for their contribution is key. As is ensuring women feel supported to pursue their next ‘big thing’ – whether it be a promotion, working on a high-profile project or extending their development in another way. Sponsorship initiatives, such as Urbis and Cistri’s SOAR program, provide a pathway for individuals to develop a positive relationship with a collective of senior colleagues.

As part of our SOAR program, sponsors can share practical experience and advice to support the SOAR participants’ progress and drive positive performance outcomes. The sponsorship at play is about advocacy and expanding participants networks. SOAR has also contributed to talent retention and since the program’s inception, 70% of the participants have advanced within the company through the support of their sponsors.

Enabling our people to work with flexibility acknowledges intersectionality and allows people to bring their authentic self to work. Work is only one part of someone’s life, and being able to do so flexibly makes it possible to achieve a greater sense of work-life balance.

It is no secret that women often take on the lion’s share of care giving hours and domestic responsibilities, whether it be looking after an elderly parent or picking up the kids from school. Flexible working helps to ease the way that this disproportionately disadvantages women in the workplace and can look like; working-from-home arrangements, alternative start times, and part-time work. Through supporting all employees to take advantage of flexible working arrangements, we start to move the dial for cultural change.

Women-centric initiatives, whether they be women-led or women-exclusive, are important in providing spaces in the workplace where women feel comfortable to share their vulnerabilities and unique challenges. There is power in sharing stories and supporting female employees to seek support and guidance from those who have had similar experience and alleviates the stigma around topics like post-partum recovery, menstruation, or menopause.

Our Inclusion Committee and our People and Culture team are working hand in hand to create a safe space where our women feel supported and inspired by other women in the business, whether it be through our policies, our initiatives, or our organisational culture.

It is my goal to give back to the team.

Ee Iyn Wong View Profile

Seeing women in influential or leadership positions is powerful. Representation allows individuals to envision a rewarding career and aspire to positions of seniority and leadership. Through investment in the acceleration of women, we can move towards greater gender balance across organisations at all levels.

Encouraging organisation-wide goal-setting and supporting managers to make tangible steps which support gender balance in their teams, leads to real change. Celebrating the success and achievements of our women provides further visibility of our female talent and enhances workplace culture.

Women are only truly supported when both parents, regardless of gender, have access to parental leave schemes that are based around empathy for the life changing circumstances of becoming a parent. A strong parental leave scheme empowers women to prioritise their family while minimizing or even eliminating any possible negative impact on their career.

At Urbis and Cistri we offer 18 weeks paid full-time parental leave for primary parents and work with staff to ensure they feel connected during their leave; have peace of mind in their job-security; and that they are comfortable when the time comes to return.

Don’t be afraid to creatively explore how your interests outside property can relate to your day job.

Melissa Luki View Profile

One of the best ways to invest in women is to empower women to invest in themselves. Going beyond a budget allocation and providing resources, it is crucial that we also enable women to take time away from the BAU to prioritise learning and development. This extends to providing opportunities that consider flexible working arrangements.

Learning opportunities should be a healthy balance of developing work-based skills and personal-interest skills. A business-wide culture that embraces learning and development opportunities is essential to ensuring individuals feel comfortable to participate. At Urbis and Cistri, we acknowledge the uniqueness of our people, offering a broad range of learning opportunities that are aligned with their interests and goals.

To holistically accelerate the progress of women, it is important that organisations have strong structures in place to identify and eliminate unacceptable behaviour. This includes any cases of discrimination based on sex, and any instances of sexual harassment in connection with work.

Through implementing and raising awareness of correct policies and procedures, we can ensure women are safe and supported. At Urbis and Cistri, our People and Culture team are committed to priotitising the safety of all our people.

Learn more

To explore the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day further visit United Nations. You can also join the conversation by following Urbis and Cistri on LinkedIn or Instagram.