Acknowledging that women are often excluded from the top investment roles in the industry, Nathalie Palladitcheff, who runs one of Canada’s biggest real estate investors, told an audience in Copenhagen that diversity and inclusion are key to achieving a diversified portfolio.

In her keynote speech at the first in-person IPE Real Estate Global Conference & Awards since 2019, the president and CEO of Ivanhoé Cambridge, said: “Diversity and diversification are in fact two sides of the same coin.”

Being a long-term investor means having to build a portfolio that is diverse and resilient, she said at the hybrid event, which attracted more than 250 in-person delegates and more than 300 registered online.

“And diversity is a key factor which enables the achievement of diversification in the portfolio,” she said. “Achieving the two goals will enable us to become not only a global investor but a global company, which is different.

“Are we there yet? No. Have we started the journey, absolutely.”

She told delegates that people who did not feel accepted for who they were at organisations may have to spend extra mental energy worrying, for example, what they could and could not say, and how people might treat them.

“Have you ever wondered as a leader if your team is telling you what they think, or whether they’re telling you what they think you want to hear?” she asked.

“If people can’t bring their authentic self, it can translate also into a loss of potential innovation and ideas,” she said.

Palladitcheff, who was recognised for an Outstanding Industry Contribution at the IPE Real Estate Awards later in the evening, said that being herself all the time had been the most simple and efficient way to live her life as a woman, as a mother and as a professional.

“I’ve also always wanted to be useful, to do something meaningful. Those two things have been for me the way of being included,” she said.

“That’s why when I was appointed, me, a female migrant – I am French – as president and CEO of a company in charge of the Quebecers’ pension funds, I felt empowered and accountable about what diversity and inclusion means in our industry and in Ivanhoé Cambridge.”

Diversity leads to better performance, she said, citing various pieces of evidence, including that diverse companies were 2.5 times more likely to retain their millennial workforce over five years, and that teams including different working styles could solve problems faster and reduce group-think.

To read the digital edition of the latest IPE Real Assets magazine click here.