Dismantling built environment barriers together

14th October 2021

Hundreds of senior leaders and practitioners across the built environment joined the official launch of our Firm Foundations campaign today, which aims to make the industry more diverse and inclusive for young Londoners, especially those from diverse socio-economic and multi-ethnic backgrounds.

Speakers at the virtual event included Geeta Nanda, CEO MTVH and chair of G15 group and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, who both expressed their support for the campaign.

Watch their messages here:

Our panel session was chaired by Sam McClary, Editor of the Estates Gazette, and she was joined by Nick Walkley, President UK Strategic Advisory, Avison Young & former CEO, Homes England; Bola Abisogun, DiverseCity Surveyors; Roma Agrawal, Engineer and Author; Rim Adem, CBRE; and Ali Siddiqi, JLL & Mayor’s Fund Youth Board member.

The discussion was challenging, honest and inspiring and it was great to hear that collectively there was an understanding that more must be done to support new talent and an appetite to do it better.

Some of the key takeaways included:

  • This is a moral issue, as well as a straightforward business issue
  • Down to employers to create profound genuine change
  • We shouldn’t view diversity and inclusion as one-way patriarchal process
  • People fear change; most understand benefits of diversity don’t know how to translate into action
  • Major disconnect between having BAME networks and then delivering on promises made to them
  • Awareness of opportunities for young people just not there, but also “there are not many people who look like me”
  • A structural systemic issue, acknowledge it exists, listen to people who talk to you with humility and then do something about it
  • A huge talent pool exists, there is a skills shortage according to whose definition?
  • It’s okay for leaders to say ‘I don’t know’, draw on expertise when needed and have those empowering listening conversations
  • Encourage and inspire the next generation, start now, connect with them through schools
  • Practice vulnerability
  • Firm Foundations creates a community, leverage those partnerships

The Firm Foundations campaign aims to create instant impact in its first year by signing up 100 companies to take collective and meaningful action via our Diversity Pledge whilst also working with business leaders to shape an industry-wide programme for the longer term.

To find out more about the campaign or to get involved, click here.