Lawyers have a positive role to play in helping the property industry become more diverse and inclusive

Karl Brown

Karl Brown

There is widespread recognition in the property industry that more must be done to extend its fantastic opportunities to potential candidates from all sections of our communities.

But what role can lawyers play in helping the industry achieve this goal?

In the day-to-day work of being a lawyer, it can often be easy to forget the long-established tradition we have of being agents of positive change in society. Obvious examples include Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi. I firmly believe that this ability to bring positive change can also be brought to vital business sectors such as the property industry.

I founded the Bristol Property Inclusion Charter in 2019 to boost diversity and inclusion in Bristol’s property sector. It was clear to me from research into RICS’ diversity figures for its Bristol membership and discussions with trusted contacts that the Bristol property sector was not as diverse as it could be given the wider diversity in the Bristol population.

The charter has seven objectives, which in summary include trying to open up opportunities in the Bristol property sector and collaboration to bring transformative change.

In 2019, the charter had about 15 signatory companies and organisations. Today, we have more than 70, including Avison Young, Bristol City Council, Elim Housing, Galliard Homes, Grainger, Live West, Redrowand YTL.

Positive change

Of course, achieving positive change in the property industry requires collaboration among all key stakeholders, because an industry-wide issue requires an industry-wide response. This is why in early 2020, I founded the Bristol Property Inclusion Commission to help run and achieve the objectives of the charter. I sit on the commission as chair alongside representatives from other parts of the property industry. The latest person to join the commission is Nicole Kruger, an associate director in the healthcare team in Avison Young’s Bristol office.

In commenting on her decision to join the commission, Kruger said: “I think the property industry has a reputation as being an industry easily accessible for predominantly white men from affluent backgrounds, while people from lower socioeconomic and more diverse backgrounds often face barriers into the industry.

“I hope that by joining the committee I can help highlight that there are opportunities for everyone – regardless of their background – to benefit from our industry. As an industry, we need to start showing that we have realised the need for change.”

Other members of the Bristol Property Inclusion Commission are: Karle Burford from AHR; Deborah Bryant-Pearson from Colliers; Joe Constant from Property Options; David Dibble from City of Bristol College; Leticia Mandra from Women in Planning; Jamie Siggers from Campbell Reith; and Katie Stamper from Wise Living.

Lawyers in collaboration with key stakeholders in the property industry can play an important role in opening up the great opportunities in the sector to people with talent and the right work ethic, regardless of their background.

Karl Brown is a commercial property partner in the Bristol office of law firm Clarke Willmott and a social mobility ambassador for the Law Society of England and Wales