Creating a more diverse and inclusive real estate industry

11 Jul 2017

Policy area: Diversity and Inclusivity

Originally published in the BPF Annual Review 2016-17.

Diversity and inclusion lead to more innovation, more opportunities for all, better access to talent, and better business performance.

Diversity and inclusion lead to more innovation, more opportunities for all, better access to talent, and better business performance. There are many reasons why every sector and business should seek to be genuinely diverse and inclusive: firstly it’s the right thing to do. It also improves performance – there’s strong evidence that companies that embrace diversity improve their bottom line. In a competitive labour market, talented professionals increasingly expect companies to be diverse and inclusive and society is also increasingly holding business to account.

Genuinely encouraging and listening to diverse perspectives improves decision-making and gives people the opportunity to learn from each other and grow. Finally for our sector, we create places for everyone – how better to understand and respond to diverse communities’ needs than having those perspectives represented within our industry?

It’s no secret that our sector has lagged behind in terms of being – and being perceived to be – welcoming of people from diverse backgrounds. This year we have become one of the first trade associations to commit itself to take action to promote diversity and inclusion.

At our President’s Lunch in April, we launched our Statement of Principles to encourage a more diverse and inclusive real estate industry, setting out the importance of attracting – and retaining – the most comprehensive range of talent from across society.

We are not trying to reinvent the wheel – many of our members are already involved in excellent associated initiatives that we already support. Rather, we want to use our unique brand and influence to work with partners to amplify their voice and support their work.

We want to help drive change and will be working in different ways with organisations who share that objective. Our initial partners include Real Estate Balance, Pathways to Property, Purple, and Freehold, and we delighted to have Freehold, the LGBT networking and support group for real estate professionals, supporting the launch of the Statement of Principles.

As well as working for change across the industry, we recognise the need to ensure our own practices are diverse and inclusive. We are therefore refreshing our internal diversity and inclusion policy and practices seeking to adopt best practice as an employer. Our Board is currently 25% female, and Board members have committed to increasing this to 33% by 2020. We will also be working with the chairs of our committees to see how we can make these more diverse, and will avoid homogenous line-ups at events either hosted or supported by us.

Reaching the stage where the make-up of the industry reflects wider society will not happen overnight. This year marks the start of our journey - we look forward to using our influence to promote and encourage best practice within our sector, and to working with partners and members to create a more diverse and inclusive real estate sector.