Liz Hamson’s leader last week was a welcome call for the property sector to look at the issue of sexual harassment and ask itself the question: how many Harvey Weinsteins are there in our industry?
I only speak of my own experience when I say that, thankfully, your description of “grubby” behaviour within property is foreign to me, and not one I associate with our industry.
But I say this not to invalidate the experience of others. I have been fortunate to work in the sector for 30 years and have seen tremendous change in that time. We have come a long way in embracing diversity in all forms, but we have still further to go.
Only when we have a better balance of women at the most senior levels in our industry can we be confident that these behaviours will be a thing of the past. The CEO Commitments to Diversity, developed by Real Estate Balance with leaders in the industry, will launch on 1 November and are clear evidence of the determination for change that is being driven at board level by both men and women.
It is the fundamental right of everyone working in property to feel safe, valued and respected
It is the fundamental right of everyone working in property to feel safe, valued and respected in their places of employment and for women to be viewed as professional equals.
One of the goals of Real Estate Balance is to support the formation of an industry that is inclusive in its culture, that is representative of wider society and where women are judged purely based on their professional attributes, passion, hard work, drive and determination. It is only from a foundation of equality that all women can build a successful career.
If what we are seeing in the film industry teaches us anything, it is that we must call out unacceptable behaviour. So I encourage women and men who see or experience any form of sexual harassment, bullying or intimidation to come forward. They must feel safe to do so, in the knowledge that their bravery will be honoured by their employers and that appropriate action will follow.
And if there are any Weinsteins in property, they must know that there is no place for them in our industry.
Vivienne King, chair, Real Estate Balance
— Savannah de Savary (@SdeSavary) October 23, 2017
— Richard Berridge (@ResiRichard) October 25, 2017
Thank you Liz for talking about it. Many stories ranging from clients dressing you down as you present, to site managers hitting on you. https://t.co/aVh3eHLZqp
— elinagrigoriou (@ElinaGrigoriou) October 21, 2017
I was glad to see you taking up the cudgels against excessive testosterone and frankly criminal behaviour in our industry as regards sexual harassment with non-consenting women. I am sure you can understand I would prefer to remain anonymous but these stories are true.
Like many I am sure, I witnessed numerous woeful situations and offences and know women need to be protected by raising the subject. It is a disgrace and I was glad to read this week in the FT of Fidelity chief executive Abigail Johnson’s stance on the matter. Zero tolerance is what leaders need to express here. And zero means zero.
I know my career was damaged by the stance I took to defend and protect some of the women involved. In one case, it eventually emerged that the perpetrator had committed multiple offences in the office and on staff outside the office. He remains in post at the same level, unpunished and still married.
God help us all.
Name and address supplied
Your words are spot on as always. It’s such an important topic and I was both surprised and delighted to see Property Week cover this. It’s provoked much discussion within the team.
Name and address supplied
You are right about the shades of grey. I don’t see the value in dredging up gropes, thrusts and worse from decades ago. Few of them bothered me at the time, although perhaps they should have. But as the parent of an almost-teenage daughter, I now view things through a different prism. And it’s really disappointing to hear your colleagues are enduring the same stuff now.
Time for a curfew?
I felt compelled to email you after your excellent piece in this week’s Property Week.
I fall in to the category of those who stayed with your article to the very end. I also endorse entirely what you said in that we all need to call out unacceptable behaviour. It doesn’t matter a jot what age an offending toerag is or whether they come from a bygone age where they may suggest it was acceptable behaviour. The truth is that it has no place in our society or especially in our industry.
Maybe we should promote a compulsory curfew at Mipim for some of those older members of our industry who are likely to offend or behave in an unacceptable fashion. Better still, we should encourage them to stay at home.