The book I co-authored with Judith Gabler entitled Managing Diversity and Inclusion in Real Estate and Construction came out a week ago and is intended to move the dial on diversity and inclusion (D&I) for the sector by empowering everyone that reads it; from chief executive to graduate and apprentice.
Somewhat ironically given I have written a book, my message is that now is the time for actions not words. Everyone understands the issues and now we all need to do something about it to attract top talent into our sector.
Research shows that high-performing organisations focus on D&I. There are lots of statistics that prove that gender diversity and wider diversity, particularly at boardroom level, materially affect the bottom line. The war for talent is increasing and top talent has choices, so we need to look hard at how we maintain standards while widening the catchment of people who come into the sector. It’s not about one person over another, but how we can embrace D&I for the betterment of the sector.
Creating a diverse and inclusive workforce is even more critical for a sector building for a community that is diverse. What we create needs to be reflective of that community.
The property sector is still struggling to attract female talent. Just 14% of the RICS’ qualified members are female out of 120,000 professionals and trainees worldwide. At graduate and trainee level, it improves somewhat to 24%, but in construction it falls to around 6%.
So the gap to fill is clear for all to see. We not only have to attract the best talent; we have to retain it, too.
So where to start?
Change in any organisation has to come from the top, which is why in our book we talk to chief executives and leaders.
But the philosophy is about empowering everyone to embrace the changes needed. This can range from simple things like going out to a school to talk about what you do, considering timings of meetings to try to include everyone, openly discussing D&I in team selection to not being afraid to call out bad behaviours and refusing to speak on panels that are not diverse. If we all do something, the impact will be felt more broadly and the culture will change.
In any workplace, it is important to understand and recognise the benefits that having a diverse and inclusive workforce provides. It is integral to developing people within an organisation, serving clients in the best way possible and playing a vital leadership role in communities.
Our book is a first for the sector placing D&I at the heart of successful real estate and construction organisations. It provides guidance to, and actions for, professionals in the sector who want to make D&I an inherent part of the culture of their organisation. It brings the sector up to speed on what D&I is all about. The key message is we all have a role to play and we should #BeTheChange we want to create.
Amanda Clack is executive director and head of strategic advisory at CBRE