Considering our business contributes to shaping the world by building better cities, it is surprising that the importance of diversity has only recently started to properly embed itself into our psyche.
Our drive to ensure that the places in which we operate promote inclusiveness and build open communities with a mix of uses has shown us that we can only achieve this if we come at it with a wide range of voices and experiences.
Putting together a team of people from homogenous backgrounds to work on a project or investment is doing a disservice not only to the outcome for the community where it is located, but to the process of sourcing the best ideas and solutions, as well as the accountability and balance of responsible leadership.
Unfortunately however, we do not yet have a diverse workforce to always meet these ambitions. Women are estimated to make up around 14 percent, and those from a black, Asian and minority ethnicities (BAME) background in the UK are just above 1 percent. It is an issue we need to address by making our current industry more open and showing that we are determined to evolve going forward.
At Women Talk Real Estate, we think raising the visibility of the female experts already doing great work in the industry is one really important and practical way we can start to address this.
Voice and visibility
We help female professionals find speaking opportunities, knowing that the individual visibility they receive helps with business connections, and that if we are all doing this, then we can challenge any stereotypes about what women are doing in this industry and provide more role models for future generations.
In the past two years, we have seen more than 450 invitations to speak sent to more than 220 different women, raising the visibility of not just more women but a wider range of voices.
Visibility has also been an important factor for BAME professionals, with great work being done through organizations such as BAME in Property, which supports talented professionals from all backgrounds.
With fewer BAME professionals, there’s also rightly an emphasis on demonstrating the importance of property as a fulfilling career choice for future generations. This really needs to take us into schools, where property as a career needs to be showcased to young people from a wider variety of backgrounds.
We should also remember that our industry is changing, with technology as one of the main driving forces. We not only need people with surveying and financial backgrounds but will increasingly require data and tech specialists. We should use this to help us look beyond our regular cohort of graduates and apprentices each year.
The topic of diversity will not disappear. It is being taken seriously by industry leaders who know that while there is still much work to be done, a responsible and successful business is not possible without it.
Andrea Carpenter is director of Women Talk Real Estate. www.womentalkrealestate.org