Yet, even though more efforts at inclusion are being made, challenges still persist. With an eye on the emerging year, DiversityQ asked some members of the Freehold Board, part of a networking forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professionals working in the property sector, what they see as the biggest challenges facing LGBTQ+ talent, and their hopes for inclusion in 2022.
Aims for LGBTQ+ inclusion from property sector leaders
Ian Pattinson – Senior Regeneration Manager at Southern Housing Group Limited: “The property industry needs to keep promoting an inclusive persona – creating a culture where people are respected and appreciated. One of my long term goals is to have a private space where members of the LGBTQ+ community in the property sector could meet and conduct business. Training courses about ways to be an ally to all would be the best way to strengthen the LGBTQ+ group in property.”
Scott Parsons – Chief Operating Officer UK at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield: “I’m hoping this year we’ll see in-person networking events become more common again. Even though virtual events serve their purpose, I find that getting together fosters a real sense of inclusion, especially for minority groups.
“When we return to a more normal way of work and life, my hope is that the important topics, like diversity and inclusion and mental health continue to demand the attention they received during the pandemic and don’t get forgotten or pushed to the back burner again.”
Kelly Canterford – Director at Tigrou Consulting: “It’s crucial to elevate the conversation regarding LGBTQ+ members of the workforce continuously. Hybrid working conditions, where some or all employees are working remotely, can end up creating silos. When visibility into what other members of the team are doing is limited, the feeling of isolation from your peers could become worse. When some groups of employees return to the office and others do not, there’s also a chance of a clique dynamic. All of this might make some want to stay at home permanently – for all the wrong reasons.
“Encouraging the concept of wellbeing is good for employees as well as for the organisation itself – it can help prevent stress and create a positive working environment. All this will lead to better health for employees which in turn enables better participation and organisational performance.”
Marko Salopek – Project Manager at Clarion Housing Group: “There is still a need for a platform to come out to colleagues, whilst working from home, especially when it comes to new starters in the workspace. It’s important to remember that it might be far less comfortable to come out online than it would have been in person.
“What I’m hoping to see more of is for companies to foster the social element of work – even if we’re not actually meeting up in person – making sure there is time for employees to gather and have social interactions above and beyond the scope of work.
“Role models and networking for members of the LGBTQ+ community remains an integral part of the workspace. My wish is to see more opportunities and more members stepping forward to shine a light for those who are still new to the community.
“Strong internal communication is vital to achieving all of this. There should be an ongoing chat, to everyone in the company, about the issues at hand and how to help/handle them if they arise.”
Since Freehold’s official launch in September 2011, the group has grown to over 1000 members and continues to expand. To find out more about the forum, click here.