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.

“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.”

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.

I am proud to work for an organisation (Cushman & Wakefield), where they have taken steps to make the profession more accessible. This has been through outreach into schools, continuously growing the apprenticeship scheme and broadening the pool of talent in their recruitment strategy. I have been fortunate to work on the company’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative ‘Inspire’. Through this, I have been involved in schools talk and organised office workshops to show the opportunities available to young people. I have also celebrated a number of cultural events in multiple regional offices to bring colleagues together and educate them about different cultures. This has led to increased awareness amongst colleagues, created an inclusive environment and established positive relationships.

It is also crucial that we showcase a variety of role models from different backgrounds in our industry. This gives young people the motivation to try and emulate their success and think, ‘If they can do it, so can I’. A workforce that mirrors the rich diversity of the people it serves is not only a celebration of our differences, but evidence overwhelmingly shows that it makes us more productive, creative and successful.

"If they can do it, so can I."

So how can we create an inclusive environment for a BAME individual?

  • Create a safe space where people from a BAME background can freely talk
  • Understand that if you are in the majority you have an advantage
  • Accept that if you are a senior leader who is non-BAME, you have a responsibility to use your influence to make things better for people who are in an ethnic minority
  • Expand your network, reach out to people who are different to you, expose yourself to different views
  • Find a reverse mentor to help you understand what it’s like to be in the minority
  • Above all else, truly listen and be aware.

There is a long road to achieving equality in our industry but it requires the efforts and support from employers and individuals, where views and opinions are heard. Organisations like BAME in Property are great in providing that forum where BAME and non-BAME people can network comfortably, discuss challenges and opportunities and ultimately, push the industry to make some important changes.