Diverse workforce: making it a reality

Diverse and dynamic

10 February 2017

Lucile Kamar sets out the case for a more diverse workforce, and looks at how RICS is helping members to make it a reality

According to a recent Ernst and Young report it is estimated that, by 2028, women will control close to 75% of worldwide discretionary spending. Women are already becoming increasingly influential as clients and the surveying profession is facing a skills shortage with an ageing demographic, according to the recent RICS Surveying the future research. An RICS report Our changing world: let’s be ready highlighted that one of the key areas employers wanted RICS to address in conjunction with them was the 'war for talent'.

It will likely be at least another 40 years before the number of female chartered surveyors comes close to equalling the number of males

The sector currently suffers from a perception that it is not diverse enough: just 9 property businesses made it on to a 2015 list of the UK’s 100 most gay-friendly workplaces compiled by the charity Stonewall. Moreover, recent gender dynamics suggest it will likely be at least another 40 years before the number of female chartered surveyors comes close to equalling the number of males.

RICS qualified membership statistics tell us:

  • that only 13% of surveyors are female, with 19% of commercial surveyors and 17% of residential surveyors being women;
  • that 1.2% of surveyors are from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds;
  • that those with disabilities make up fewer than 1% of the profession; and
  • we have no data for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) surveyors.

Inclusive Employer Quality Mark

RICS has a duty and an ambition to act as a catalyst for change across the profession. One way RICS is contributing is through the RICS Inclusive Employer Quality Mark (IEQM). Launched just over a year ago, the IEQM has recently reached its 110th signatory, and now covers more than 140,000 people in total.

The IEQM is the benchmark for inclusion and diversity in land, property and construction, and is based on 6 principles:

  • leadership and vision;
  • recruitment;
  • staff retention;
  • staff development;
  • staff engagement; and
  • continuous improvement.

The mark is designed to change behaviour by encouraging all firms, large and small, to look carefully at their employment practices and put inclusivity at the heart of what they do.

An inclusive workforce is a competitive workforce, mirroring both their clients and the community. The report Diversity matters from McKinsey & Company looked at the relationship between diversity levels and companies’ financial performance. The numbers speak for themselves.

Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Creating a diverse and inclusive environment therefore makes business sense, and is also in line with the Equality Act 2010.

Companies in the built environment are at different stages of progress towards being diverse and inclusive. A common request from our members and members firms, however, was to create a place where they could share best practice. It was felt that learning from business leaders and external organisations would embed diversity and inclusion principles in their workplace.

Online hub

We have therefore revamped our diversity website by creating the first professional hub of best practice and case studies. This has been described by our members as the 'missing piece of the puzzle', proving that putting diversity and inclusion measures and policies in place does not have to be a time-consuming or resource-intensive process.

This is very much in line with RICS’ ambition to support our members and their firms in diversity and inclusion. We continue to lead the way by promoting this agenda, and welcome contributions from all practices, so do please get in touch if you would like to take part.

[RICS is] committed to ensuring that our profession is as open and inclusive as possible

We are also inviting professionals to join us for a series of UK-wide networking lunches in the regions, concentrating on improving diversity and inclusion practices in land, property and construction. Each lunch will feature a panel of industry representatives discussing topics related to one of the principles of the IEQM. Visit rics.org/diversity to find an event near you.

Finally, we are committed to ensuring that our profession is as open and inclusive as possible, and we believe that this comes about by empowering members and organising events. For example, in October we celebrated Coming Out Day at RICS HQ in Westminster for the LGBT community and its allies.

RICS is ready to offer advice, guidance and support to firms, and we continue to lead the way by driving the diversity and inclusion agenda in the profession. To advance responsible business practices, we have embarked on a number of initiatives to improve diversity and inclusion throughout the property, land and built environment sectors.

Do get involved now, and if you have any questions or comments, please get in touch.

Lucile Kamar is RICS Equalities Manager

Further information

  • Find out about the upcoming RICS diversity conference
  • This feature is taken from RICS Building surveying journal (December 2016/January 2017)