Is fear standing in the way of diversity?

Is fear standing in the way of diversity?

This week we have our first contribution from The Midlands, by Latisha Dhir, a Senior Consultant at Avison Young and Co-founder of Women in Planning, West Midlands. In her blog, she discusses how fear of what others think around us can prevent us from embracing the opportunities presented in our eyes. Latisha has overcome her fears in many ways, through starting a conversation with her peers and co-founding a Women in Planning branch in the West Midlands, which helped give her and others like her, greater visibility.

Latisha was recently shortlisted for Greater Birmingham’s Future Faces Award, for her commitment to diversity in planning.

Latisha Dhir

Diversity is a word embedded in our ideas and practices. Companies, networks and professional bodies have become increasingly aware of the importance of this word in creating inclusive and sustainable practices. Whilst there is much to be celebrated in recent years through the establishment of diverse networks (i.e. BAME in Property), I question is this enough to tackle the barriers for BAME professionals.

Four Ways Co-Working Spaces Foster Diversity & Inclusion

Four Ways Co-Working Spaces Foster Diversity & Inclusion

In recent years the co-working arena has taken off globally. From WeWork to Regus, it's a popular choice for entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and those just looking for an inspiring environment to work.

One of BAME in Property’s Partners is WorkSpott, a growing network of drop-in workspaces. They transform underutilised urban locations, such as restaurants and bars, into productive spaces where people can come and get things done.

Workspott’s Co-founder, Van Sharma and BAME in Property’s Founder, Priya Shah believe co-working and diversity come hand in hand. The people you meet and the stories you hear from around the world in shared spaces are the foundation for ideas, different ways of working and appreciation of various cultures.

Here’s our round up on four ways that we think co-working and diversity go hand-in-hand.

1.   Grows Your Network

One of the biggest draws to co-working is that you are constantly meeting new people, thereby broadening your personal and professional network. Co-working environments are a great way to get out of the house and make impactful connections that can lead to new prospective clients, relevant connections and even new friends. If this was an office, you’re essentially meeting a new colleague everyday - embrace this, say hello and you never know where that person might fit into your entrepreneurial journey.


How can I make my workplace more inclusive and culturally aware?

How can I make my workplace more inclusive and culturally aware?

This week, we are delighted to have our first guest blog from Manchester, with a contribution from Moiza Butt, an employee of the General Medical Council. As co-Chair of the Muslim Network, Moiza shares some of the activities that she has encouraged in her workplace to create a more inclusive working environment.

Moiza Butt, General Medical Council

In April 2018, I received an email from a Muslim colleague to help run and organise a pre-Ramadan event at work. I started to think about my workload and how I didn’t know any of the people involved. Could I really afford to lose a day volunteering just to make awkward small talk with people I didn’t really know?

On the other hand, I felt honoured that a colleague recommended me to be part of this event, which they were passionate about making a success of. Pushing my anxieties aside, I ended up accepting the invitation to volunteer.

The event would consist of Muslim staff members collectively bringing in their traditional home-cooked food to do one of two things.

  1. Sell the food to all staff members and donate the money to a selected Manchester charity

  2. Create an open space for non-Muslim staff members to ask questions about Ramadan.

We had hundreds of staff members willing to buy food and ask questions, which resulted in a rewarding outcome. Over £1,400 was raised in total- which is the most that the company has ever raised for charity!

Nobody expected this and we knew we were onto something great! It seemed like a shame to stop at one event. So, over the course of 15 months, we formed a Muslim network, ran another successful Ramadan event in 2019 and started on our new project to educate others about the Islamic practice of completing Hajj.

Mind the Ethnicity Pay Gap

Mind the Ethnicity Pay Gap

Last week the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released its first official statistics on ethnicity pay gaps.

Founder of BAME in Property, Priya Shah, considers some of the challenges around ethnicity pay gap reporting and how BAME in Property can support the industry in this mammoth task.

London, which has the highest proportion of people classified as being in an ethnic minority group, had the largest pay gap between white and ethnic minority groups, at 21.7%.

This figure is hardly surprising, merely reiterating what we’ve known for years.

The Government has already introduced mandatory reporting on the gender pay gap - which stands at 9.6% in favour of men - and the ONS data also shows discrepancies in male and female earnings in the ethnic groups.

Many people are now calling for ethnicity pay gap reporting to become mandatory, in a bid to encourage companies to take tangible action to reduce injustices between BAME and non-BAME workers.

Diversity and Inclusion, an Apprentice's viewpoint

Diversity and Inclusion, an Apprentice's viewpoint

On Wednesday 19 June, BAME in Property held its first Parliamentary Summer Reception in partnership with Cushman & Wakefield to celebrate the progress of black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) professionals within the industry. The event also highlighted the work that needs to be done to promote ethnic diversity in the property and planning sectors.

Following the event, one of our attendees, Sadaqat Hussain, an Apprentice Surveyor at Cushman & Wakefield, shared his thoughts on the event and about young people entering the property industry more generally.

Sadaqat Hussain, Apprentice Surveyor, Cushman & Wakefield

For the first time at a networking event, I didn’t feel like a minority but instead, part of the majority. A mix of professionals from across the sector attended the event and I really felt part of the conversations and the buzz.

There were some insightful contributions from our speakers. Founder of BAME in Property, Priya Shah, referenced the organisation’s recent formal Partnerships and cited the Bisnow survey about what it is like to be a BAME professional in real estate in 2019. Our Parliamentary sponsor, Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, discussed why it is important to make Ethnicity Pay Gap reporting mandatory for businesses. Finally, George Roberts, Head of UK and Ireland at Cushman & Wakefield, emphasised that “Our clients, our people and our future colleagues want to work with or in organisations where they feel inspired by the breadth and depth of talent around them.” Aside from the speeches, there were also delicious canapes to nibble on.

The event had me thinking about diversity and inclusion in regard to young people and those entering the industry. The Latham report, ‘Constructing the Team’ (1994) commented on ‘The Image of the Industry’, explained that there is a huge problem attracting and attaining a high calibre of talent amongst young people. Recruitment in schools, colleges and even those at university-level has been slow, largely as a consequence of an old-fashioned ideal; that it’s an industry that is not enticing for young people.

A recent report from the RICS, the professional body for the surveying profession, highlighted that BAME individuals account for less than 3% (1,172) whilst our white counterparts make up 97% (36,350). In addition, research shows that those with ethnic names were 29% less likely to get a positive response to job applications. At entry-level, young people from BAME backgrounds without the social and financial capital to secure a graduate scheme begin to fall behind their peers from more privileged backgrounds in the race to establish themselves in the job market.

In conversation with Amandeep Gill

In conversation with Amandeep Gill

Meet Amandeep Gill, Founder of a new Public Affairs and Strategic Communications recruitment company, Melbury Wood.

As one of a handful of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) recruitment consultants in the Public Affairs and Strategic Communications industry, BAME in Property was keen to discover how diversity guided (or did not in some instances) the recruitment process for built environment communications.

“BAME is a complex issue in the built environment space and beyond. There isn’t a quick fix, as it has a lot to do with economic status and social mobility too. Often low socio-economic and BAME backgrounds come hand-in-hand,” said Amandeep.

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) latest census (2016) of the industry showed that just 9 per cent of practitioners classified as BAME. This is despite 58 per cent of Public Relations businesses being based in London, where nearly 45 per cent of Londoners classifies as BAME.

On the other end of the spectrum was the solution of positive discrimination in a bid to improve diversity in the industry.

“Some clients may actually ask for women or BAME candidates on shortlists. However, I am not an advocate of positive discrimination, as we want to encourage candidates being judged on their skills and merit alone for the job and not their background. Therefore I’m not sure that positive discrimination is a solution to the diversity problem. I’m in favour of ‘positive action’ to help remove those barriers instead.” said Amandeep.

Within the Public Affairs and Communications sector, although progress has been made we can see it doesn’t appear to necessarily reflect diversity in wider society. Companies may have an unconscious bias around candidate’s hobbies, interests and educational background. “Employers have occasionally hinted an ‘Oxbridge’ graduate/profile and often, such individuals may be drawn from a narrow demographic in society,” said Amandeep.

Meet The Woman Who Used A Racist Remark As A Spur To Create Her Own Property Network

Meet The Woman Who Used A Racist Remark As A Spur To Create Her Own Property Network

Get to know BAME in Property's Founder, Priya Shah in this Bisnow interview by Mike Philips. Learn more about how and why she set up the group and what she's learnt about the industry on ethnic diversity.

Priya Shah was in a meeting with a client of the built environment communications agency she worked for, making small talk, chatting about holiday plans. She mentioned she planned to go backpacking around South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“But you’re a bit of an Indian princess,” the client replied with surprise.

The comment took her aback, and made her feel undermined and typecast. It raised eyebrows in the room, but no one said anything.

“Because it was a client, I found it difficult to say anything, and didn’t want to be seen as creating a problem,” she said.

In 2017, after the incident, she set up BAME in Property, a networking organisation for BAME real estate professionals. It has grown to 400 people in the network, and 14 partner organisations, including the London Property Alliance and the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Shah’s personal and professional experience gives her an insight into how the real estate industry can turn the current talk about diversity into real action. She said it will involve a real understanding of some of the economic and cultural factors holding ethnic diversity back, within BAME communities who don’t see property as a legitimate profession, as well as within the property industry itself.

Read the full interview here.

Racism, Bias And Self-Doubt: Being BAME In Real Estate In 2019

Racism, Bias And Self-Doubt: Being BAME In Real Estate In 2019

In April 2019, Mike Phillips, UK Editor of Bisnow and BAME in Property asked our members to take part in a survey to find out what it's really like to be a BAME professional in property in 2019.

The results are out and Mike has put together many of the responses in this fascinating piece.

"We found that racism and discrimination were commonplace, and about 70% of those who responded said they had experienced racism or discrimination of some kind — sometimes subtle and insidious, sometimes open and vile. There is still very much a sense that the avenues to the top of the profession are closed off, something that even a cursory glance at UK property boardrooms would confirm.

"Reasons to be positive? UK property is changing. The conversations about diversity being held within companies and lobbying organisations and in the media are at least highlighting that a problem exists. And those who responded had some concrete ideas about how the industry can turn this talk into tangible change, change that for BAME professionals in property cannot come quickly enough."

Read the full feature here.

BAME in Property announces next four Partnerships

BAME in Property announces next four Partnerships

Two weeks after announcing its first ten Partners, BAME in Property is pleased to add another four Partners to its growing cohort.

Most notable amongst this second wave of Partners is the London Property Alliance (LPA), representing 400 companies across the Capital. The LPA is the name for the combined campaigns and events of the Westminster Property Association (WPA) and City Property Association (CPA) on issues, which impact Central London real estate sector. 

Recognising the need to take meaningful action to promote the recruitment and retention of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity (BAME) professionals in the industry, the LPA has pledged its full support to BAME in Property. The LPA will work together with BAME in Property to utilise its varied public speaker directory, ensure diverse attendance at LPA events and promote diversity amongst its 400 members.  

Staying true to representing the diverse built environment sector, BAME in Property has also partnered with smaller Not-for-Profits and start-ups.

This includes Public Practice, which create unique placements for built environment professionals and their public authority hosts. There is also CRE-ation, a networking group that holds regular events for professionals in the start of their careers. Both organisations have made impactful movements and established their presence in the built environment sector.

On the start-up front, BAME in Property welcomes its first co-working Partner, Workspott, which provides co-working spaces in underutilised bars and restaurants across London. For Workspott, diversity is what makes their work stronger, by allowing members from all corners of the world to meet, collaborate and share ideas. 

Why should the social housing sector embrace ethnic diversity?

Why should the social housing sector embrace ethnic diversity?

Every month BAME in Property picks a theme, an area of housing to explore through the ethnic diversity lens.

This month, we’ve been sharing the importance of ethnic diversity in the social housing sector. From BME housing associations, to Asian Women’s Refuges and housing diverse tenants, ethnic diversity is crucial for this sector.

Our theme was timely, as one of BAME in Property’s first ten Partners was the Housing Diversity Network (HDN), announced on 14 May 2019.

I had a long discussion with HDN’s Chief Executive, Raj Patel, who shared his thoughts on how and why the sector could embrace diversity further, resulting in better outcomes for the very people it is trying to serve. Here are some of my thoughts following our conversation.

The majority of social housing’s leadership is white and male – and little has changed in recent years. For a sector that has more diverse customers than private housing, it is guilty of having some of the least diverse leaders. In an Inside Housing survey published in January 2018, only three out of 64 housing associations have a BME chief executive. And only one of those is a woman – Geeta Nanda, chief executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley.

BAME in Property announces first ten partnerships

BAME in Property announces first ten partnerships

Following a successful year as the leading ethnic diversity network for the built environment sector, BAME in Property is starting the process of evolving into a membership organisation.

BAME in Property is delighted to announce its first ten partnerships with a range of organisations and companies in the built environment sector.

BAME in Property’s Partners are an integral part of the organisation. They support and help promote the important cause to different demographics within the built environment sector. From recruitment companies to leading media partners, membership bodies and emerging diversity and urban groups, BAME in Property’s Partners are truly representative of our diverse industry.

The first ten Partners include: Estates Gazette, the Royal Town Planning Institute, Gradfeed, Housing Diversity Network, Hyre Proptech Recruitment, Women in Planning, Building People, Urbanist Platform, Aspiring Women and Alt Urban.

Commenting on the transition to a membership organisation, Founder of BAME in Property, Priya Shah said: “Some of the biggest issues and opportunities facing the built environment sector are recruitment and retention of diverse talent, emerging technologies, the housing crisis and Brexit. What diversity within companies and around the boardroom table brings is diversity in thought and ultimately, more informed outputs. I am delighted to welcome BAME in Property’s first ten Partners to help promote our work and advocacy and allow us the opportunity to support them in their work too. I look forward to developing our partnerships over the coming months and establishing BAME in Property’s mark as a membership organisation for the industry.”