Perspectives 2019

Diversity impact By: Louise Walls, Associate – Lease Advisory T here is no doubt that the world is moving forward at an ever faster pace: we can swipe right to meet people, read news on tap, and make payments using face recognition. But in this constantly transforming social landscape, people like me often feel that the real estate industry could and should be doing more to increase diversity – or risk losing the next round of talent to other industries. The need to speed up change within our industry has never felt more pressing. In the last few years, a lot of progress has been made, and companies do recognise the need for a diverse mix of faces to help them evolve. However, even today I still see the surprise on some faces that I am (a) female and (b) young! In May, the Financial Times published a report stating that the Big Four auditors — KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte – were predominantly white and male. This year, the FTSE 250 as a whole fell short of the government’s target for 33 per cent women board members, despite the continued media attention and the mandatory publication of gender pay gap figures. It’s easy to assume that the “middle-aged white men in suits” often share a similar social background – but it transpires that many even have the same name. Research by City AM found that there are twice as many Johns/Jonathans on the board of the UK’s biggest firms than black and minority ethnic (BME) directors. For people who identify as LGBT, it seems that there is also less visibility at board and senior management level. But I believe role models and allies in the workplace are important in creating a safe environment where people feel represented – particularly as people in minority groups are often under-represented in the senior tiers of organisations. These issues can’t be changed overnight, but I find it encouraging to see that they are being recognised and that the “human factor” is becoming a bigger focus in the industry. When 28 per cent of jobs in real estate are at risk of being replaced by automation, it is this human factor that makes our industry an interesting and valuable place to be. Whatever our gender, age or race, we all have a personal history and a story – a set of experiences that makes us different and allows us to offer more as a collective. The people you email, the panel you pitch to and the commuters you pass on the train all have experiences that set them up with the skillset they utilise in the workplace. It is this skillset, beyond the CV and peer group, that will hopefully contribute to the diverse workforce and leadership that is slowly being created in the CRE industry. Not only is it time to recognise the people behind the corporate roles: it is also time for us to show the value of diversity and turn the list of things we do into a list of what we can offer. # TOPICAL CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD 15 TOPICAL