21 Feb 2018
Policy area: Diversity and Inclusivity
Published in Estates Gazette this week, our Chief Executive Melanie Leech discusses the role our new junior professional network BPF Futures is playing in shaping the industry’s voice.
We launched BPF Futures in December, our new network for professionals with 10 years’ or less experience in real estate. Our ambition, shaped by young professionals themselves, was to create a new kind of network – to be a place which would invite and welcome the diverse range of talent from across every part of the sector to learn together and to help shape the industry’s voice.
We may only be a couple of months into the new year, but BPF Futures is already making its mark. Last week the network’s Advisory Board, seven exceptional rising property industry stars, were invited into the heart of government – 10 Downing Street – to meet Jamie Cowling, the housing and planning adviser to the Prime Minister.
The Board first presented on key objectives for BPF Futures, including their ambition to host a series of events that will give junior professionals the opportunity to learn about policy, and begin to form an opinion on and interact with the industry’s relationship with government.
They then discussed diversity and inclusion in real estate, the reputational issues the industry continues to face and how, moving forward, BPF Futures can work with government to ensure the industry’s voice is representative.
It was clear from the discussion that both government and we are keen for further engagement, and see huge opportunities in bringing young people together across public and private sectors to learn from each other and build a community with greater understanding of others’ perspectives and challenges. We all recognise that drawing upon a much wider perspective will help to ensure the built environment and the way we create great places can better reflect the communities we serve.
I couldn’t be prouder of what BPF Futures has begun to achieve. Our BPF Futures members embody the value in finding a more diversified voice, nurturing talent and creating a work environment able to attract people from all parts of society. That’s not only the right thing to do, it makes good business sense.
This was a key theme of the Opening Doors conference, which the BPF and Revo hosted jointly in London this week. For sustainable businesses, diversity and inclusion are business critical issues. They must go hand in hand – there’s no point in inviting someone to the party, if you aren’t also going to ask them to dance once they arrive.
Our Open Doors panellists recognised that it’s important to keep talking about the issues – we can all learn from each other. But, above all, we need action. As one panellist put it, it could be easy to be put off by the size of the challenge, but every business and every individual has the power to ask themselves – what can I do, and do well, to make a difference. And, once the journey starts, momentum will build, lessons will be learned along the way that can be applied elsewhere and cultures and behaviours will change.
We will know we are making substantial progress when the leadership of our industry starts to represent more closely the breadth of society. If we’re going to succeed in getting a more diverse group of professionals to senior leadership positions, we need to start by giving a more diverse group of professionals the support, learning and development that will get them there. The work the BPF is doing with our partners under our Statement of Principles for a more diverse and inclusive real estate industry, and our BPF Futures, are a contribution to making this a reality: we all need to do much more though.
There is a real sense of momentum building – and a challenge to all of us to unite in creating an industry and an environment that everyone can be proud to work in.