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A Take on Inclusivity

Sep 5, 2023

Guest Post by Laura Pearson, Business Development Manager, Humanscale

Practically everyone in commercial and corporate real estate seems to agree on this point: we need to make real estate more inclusive.

Why is this so urgently needed? There are several reasons. First, real estate is a male-dominated profession. While progress is being made, not nearly enough people are represented. Second, real estate doesn’t feel accessible for people who might not be from your ‘traditional’ backgrounds. Third – and this is closely related – real estate is a profession in which connections matter. But not everyone has them. Not everyone enjoys this privilege.

These factors and more are discussed in a 2020 Bridge Group report on socio-economic diversity in the real estate sector.

So, how do we bring about change, and make commercial and corporate real estate more inclusive?

Inclusivity isn’t just about a better ratio of men to women or having more diversity across the team. It’s also about breaking down the barriers into real estate and ensuring that as a profession we look deeper than surface level. It’s about understanding someone truly, and when you can take the time to understand those you employ, you will see how lived experience can have a phenomenal impact on new and varied people coming into real estate.

I speak from experience, having grown up in foster care.

It’s important that we lay out the facts – real estate is predominately middle-class.

Change is needed, and change is coming. Progress is happening, but we still have a long way to go. The real estate profession is still not accessible to all just yet. We need to create a profession that people, regardless of background, feel they can apply to – a profession for all.

There may be thought leaders of the future and valuable individuals not entering our profession since their journeys aren’t the so-called ‘traditional routes’ of education. Many individuals will not have been given the opportunity to attend university and they may have no personal links into commercial or corporate real estate. By making a space for those people who might feel like a ‘square peg in a round hole’ real estate will benefit from a wider variety of people

So how do we make the real estate profession more accessible? One way is to have a strong social value team that works with local schools in areas that are of low socioeconomic status and inspires young people to see that there is a whole world out there that they might not even be aware of.

Prior to my career at Humanscale, I spent time working in both Lewisham and Southwark College with young people who have grown up in foster care. It’s very evident that not everyone is lucky enough to have parents around them who have high-paying jobs, or parents who are around to give advice and guidance but instead are working hard to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. This is where, as a profession, we can step up to create mentor programs and provide work experience that isn’t just for a colleague’s children or family members but for young people who through no fault of their own are unable to have these same opportunities. We don’t all get dealt a fair hand in life.

There are numerous ways to make a difference, from offering experience days for young people, working with local schools and colleges, or partnering with companies such as the Care Leaver Covenant to create a more accessible profession – just take a look at Sky or John Lewis and their examples of work experience and the work they’re doing with underrepresented groups. By making a change we are showing that real estate is a space that is diverse, inclusive, and accessible for all and we create an environment that nurtures different ways of thinking, understands that everyone comes from different lived experiences and helps level the playing field for those who may not feel real estate is a profession for them.

Editor’s Note: The author would like to thank Lizzie Ellison, Associate Director, Humanscale, for reviewing and editing her text.

Editor’s Note: Recognizing the importance of these issues to the real estate profession, CoreNet Global offers a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Certificate Program.

Laura Pearson is Business Development Manager at Humanscale

CoreNet Global