Ferguson Partners Releases Research: A More Gender-diverse Board of Directors for US & UK REITs Drives Stronger Performance

Reprinted from El Diario.

Comparison research shows both US and UK REITs are substantially
lagging behind in gender-diverse Boards, compared to S&P 500 Index and
FTSE 100 companies.

, a global professional services firm specializing in
executive and director recruitment, leadership consulting, compensation
consulting, and organizational, financial & strategic consulting,
released today critical research which examines data collected from 40
top performing US REITs and the 30 top performing UK REITs to find out
how the REIT industry is measuring up regarding female representation in
the Boardroom. This research is critical to the industry as it supports
a multi-decade trend towards female representation in the Boardroom
globally and across industries.

The research showed that when the top UK and US REITs Board of Directors
were compared to S&P 500 Index and FTSE 100 companies’ Boards, REITs are
significantly lagging behind and underrepresenting women on their
Boards. This is significant as the research supports that the more
gender-diverse a Board of Directors is the better they operate, make
more effective decisions and have a higher chance of reaching their
business goals.

Highlights from the research:

  • 80% of the US REIT Boards have at least one female director, whereas
    73% of UK REITs have a female director. Compared to:

    • Of the S&P 500 companies, 97% have at least one female director
      and 75% have at least two female directors on the Board.
    • 100% percent of FTSE 100 companies have at least one female Board
      member and 55% of the companies have greater than 25% of their
      Board comprised of female.

“This research is important to the REIT industry as it helps executive
management and Boards better understand the critical need for a
gender-diverse Board of Directors,” said Serena Althaus, Senior Managing
Director, Ferguson Partners. “Our hypotheses of why there is a shortage
of women on REIT Boards is due to the paucity of senior women in the
industry. Our sector needs to proactively promote the diversification
agenda which has proven commercial benefits to businesses.”

Ferguson Partners, which has 25 years of experience consulting leading
REITs globally on Board and governance issues, recommends the following
strategies for improving female Board representation in the REIT

  • Executive Focus: If a company is going to encourage diversity,
    it has to start at the Board level and drive it through senior
    If a company’s customer base and employee population are
    diverse, it is counterintuitive not to have diversity on the Board.
    Since male representation on boards significantly outnumbers female
    membership, it should be noted that men will need to take an active
    focus in increasing Board gender diversity.
  • Expand Search Criteria: Previous Board or Chief Executive
    Officer experience is a common criterion for a Board search, making it
    difficult for women to find their first Board assignment. Since there
    is an insufficient pool of experienced female Board members in the
    industry, if companies want to achieve gender diversity, they will
    need to adapt their Board qualifications.
  • Look Beyond the Real Estate Industry: Real estate is a broad
    industry, which touches many adjacent fields. Many REITs can benefit
    from gaining the perspective of individuals in related fields such as
    consumer goods/services and technology.
  • Focus on Candidate Quality, Not Quotas: Aggressively hiring
    unqualified women into Board roles in the name of diversity can have a
    negative impact on performance and limit future diversity hires. If
    the first female Board member is well qualified and a good fit with
    the Board, this better enables increasing gender diversity in the

Although the REIT industry needs to accelerate and pursue more female
representation on their Boards, as it will better prepare them for
optimal success, this goal is achievable if REITs adopt the strategies
outlined above and take note of the progress made by S&P 500 and FTSE
100 companies.

To find out how your Board can become more gender-diverse, please visit www.fergusonpartners.com.

To access this El Diaro article, please click here.

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