Blog: Pride in Central London’s built environment

08 Jul 2020

London’s real estate sector has a lot to achieve in supporting the LGBTQ+ community. An EG survey of 300 queer-identifying people in the sector showed that 81% of respondents felt that not enough was being done to promote the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community. According to a further EG survey, 58% of 350 LGBTQ+ respondents listed a lack of visible role models in the industry as the main perpetuating barrier facing queer people in the sector.

In a recent London Property Alliance podcast we asked Kelly Canterford (D&I Programme Manager at Changing the Face of Property), James Manning (Transformation Manager at Grosvenor Britain & Ireland) and Martin Smith (Commercial Offices Lead & Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Buro Four) to share their views on how networks, businesses and individuals in London’s property sector can better support and promote LGBTQ+ visibility.

Listen to the full podcast here or read on for a Q&A with our panellists.

Question: How can business and organisations encourage greater LGBTQ+ visibility and increase representation across the built environment?

Kelly: I think there are some really simple things for people to do when they are in the office to support LGBT+ visibility. That’s things like having rainbow lanyards or adding on to your signature that you are an inclusive company or network. Something as simple as a rainbow lanyard can help someone who is walking into a new job or room feel just a little bit more relaxed and confident that they are in an environment that has policies protecting LGBT+ people.

We also need to recognise that people who are considering a role in the industry will be asking themselves the question “does this reflect me”? Businesses need to consider this and similarly ask themselves the whether they are inclusive. Getting the best and most diverse talent is about having this inclusivity.

Martin: At Buro Four we’ve introduced diversity and inclusion preliminaries which say that a mental health first aider must be on site full time. It also asks for LGBT+ Toolbox Talks and mental health talks to be given and recorded in monthly reports. You have to demonstrate who is delivering these talks – its trackable, and it is part of the contract.

We’ve also introduced a D& I behavioural competency. Staff must fulfil this requirement by demonstrating an inclusive attitude to be considered for a promotion within the business. We have 360 reviews to get that information, because you can’t control what’s being said in the office all the time when your office is often on-site or travelling to projects. Making these things part of the promotional criteria has helped a lot with focussing minds and giving training to individuals who need support – whether that’s Toolbox training or training in unconscious bias.

There are so many other initiatives to consider: making sure the language and imagery you use on a job advert demonstrates an inclusive culture, making sure you have a really robust apprenticeship programme that ensures you’re getting people at a young age into the industry, and making sure that your company benefits and allowances are truly inclusive.

James: For me, one of the most important things is visibility. This doesn’t mean pushing people to say whether they identify as LGBTQ+. Instead it’s about visibility as a wider community and showing that we are working towards greater diversity and a sense of belonging for everyone in our organisations.

In addition, at Grosvenor, our new Global Pride Network seeks to inspire the development of an inclusive culture outside the business as much as within. We believe it is important to send a clear message to people outside both our organisation and the sector that diversity and inclusion is an important issue that we are actively working to improve.

This visibility helps everyone to have conversations about diversity and inclusion and provides people with room to share their stories, connect with others and have role models to be inspired by.

Listen to the full podcast with Kelly, Martin and James here. 

Some suggested resources for supporting LGBTQ+ visibility at work: