When I look at our sector and those who work in it, it’s pretty clear that as an industry we simply do not reflect those who live, work and play in the real estate we own, manage, lease and develop. Does that matter?
I think it does - we can’t be successful if our workforce isn’t representative of those who use our assets.
So what do we need to do? Increasing diversity in the sector is a core focus for British Land. We are nearing the first anniversary of the Urban Land Institute’s ‘UrbanPlan’ initiative, a programme that helps young senior schoolchildren understand the role real estate plays in reviving and generating urban areas.
British Land is one of the inaugural sponsors of the scheme and we are immensely proud to be supporting such an important initiative, which we feel will be instrumental in bringing a diverse range of young people into real estate to ensure the long-term success of the industry.
Pathways to Property
British Land is also a founding sponsor of Pathways to Property, a University of Reading programme targeting schools and college pupils who want to know more about a career in the property sector.
The programme is UK wide with a focus on schools in neighbourhoods with low overall progression rates to higher education or high levels of socio-economic deprivation, and on those with no immediate family working in the real estate industry.
The initiative aims to tackle the diversity issue from the ground upwards, instilling an interest in real estate in those who might not typically choose it as a career path. This year, we welcomed 93 Year 12 students to the Pathways to Property Summer School and next year, we will see the first batch of students graduate from the University of Reading who benefited from earlier summer courses and funding from the university to complete their studies.
In this time of uncertainty, it is typical and easy for any business or industry to stick with what it knows, to be wary of change or trying something different, to stick to the status quo and avoid taking risks. Let’s not forget what happened in the global financial crisis when the taps were turned off - non-core investment such as training budgets were cut, leaving a dearth of diversity of talent in the sector.
This time round, let’s not cut off our nose to spite our face. Let’s ensure that we do not lose that sense of proportional risk taking that diversity gives you. As you pack your kids off to university this autumn, spare a thought for those for whom university isn’t an option. Let’s continue to invest in increasing diversity in the sector by supporting it from the grass roots up.
This is surely the best way to ensure the future success and resilience of our industry.
Emma Cariaga is project director at British Land