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Year: 2023

Black Women in Real Estate: How highlighting success can improve diversity and inclusion

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In discussing diversity and inclusion in the built environment, we often hear about the challenges faced by minority groups in the sector. However, it is also imperative that we diversify the narrative to include exemplary stories of empowerment.

The story of Black Women in Real Estate (BWRE) is a testament to the remarkable power of female connection and empowerment in an industry that has long been dominated by men. BWRE is an organisation founded in 2019 by Hanna Afolabi, managing director of Mood and Space, to address the pressing issue of the underrepresentation of Black women in the property sector through a supportive and empowering network.

For many Black women working in the real estate sector, the experience of being the sole representative of their demographic in meetings, teams, or senior positions is all too common. This can be discouraging and challenging to navigate without a supportive network. BWRE steps into this void, offering a much-needed platform that connects and empowers Black women in the property industry, creating a community that fosters their growth and progression.

Sharing success stories

The organisation hosts regular personal and professional development workshops, which are vital for career advancement. In an industry that is predominately white and male-dominated, there is a distinct notion that to be successful, you must mirror that demographic – steering many diverse talents away from pursuing careers in the built environment. BWRE has sought to dispel that narrative by highlighting the success stories of Black women as talented and knowledgeable thought leaders and actively pushing for an increase in Black representation.

Black women face unique challenges when it comes to working in real estate and having a space that creates the opportunity for community, empowerment, and growth enables them to thrive. This benefits our members as it creates avenues for success, however companies also benefit because it supports the retention of diverse talent. When we make success attainable, we can change the landscape of professional life for Black women.” Hanna Afolabi, founder of BWRE, said.

In 2023, BWRE ran the #PhenomenalWomen campaign, sponsored by the RICS, spotlighting the experiences and journeys of five Black female executives in the real estate industry. These powerful and inspiring stories served as a roadmap for aspiring professionals, offering a glimpse into the possibilities of a successful career in real estate for Black women. By shedding light on these stories of triumph, BWRE is not only boosting morale within its community but also attracting and retaining diverse talents in the sector.

We can’t be what we cannot see“, the quote by Marian Wright Edelman, is best exemplified by the English women’s team, the Lionesses, winning the Euro 22 championship. Their football victory has changed the course of an entire industry and sparked increased interest in women’s football, which is exciting for the future of the sport. When more women see relatable examples of success, it gives them hope that they can achieve the same.

Tackling sector underrepresentation

The statistics surrounding diversity in the UK construction sector are stark – with an overall workforce of 1.4 million people, only 1.2% of employees are of Black ethnicity. This number is exceptionally low and gets lower for Black women. This glaring underrepresentation may remain a significant challenge if not intentionally tackled as the property industry heavily relies on existing relationships and immediate networks in attracting and retaining talents, making it harder to recruit people from diverse backgrounds.

Chancerygate Foundation is a charity supporting the work of BWRE and helping to address the problem of the underrepresentation of Black people in the real estate sector by promoting inclusive workplaces and creating more career opportunities for the next generation of property professionals. Since 2020, the Chancerygate Foundation has been offering bursaries, mentorships, internships, and work experience opportunities to students of Black African and Caribbean backgrounds interested in building careers in the property sector.

Crucial responsibility

Real estate industry leaders bear a crucial responsibility in improving diversity. It is not enough to merely advocate for diversity; leaders must actively engage with groups outside their immediate circles to understand and address the root causes of underrepresentation. BWRE’s Bold Space dinners exemplify this approach, bringing industry leaders together with inspiring Black female leaders for personal conversations that humanise the diversity and inclusion agenda.

The story of Black Women in Real Estate is a narrative of resilience, empowerment, and change. BWRE is pushing for the sector to challenge the status quo, break down existing barriers, and build a more inclusive and equitable future for the real estate industry. By joining hands with BWRE, we can collectively drive change, celebrate diversity, and create opportunities for more talented Black women in the built environment.

The BWRE is a non-profit organisation that relies on donations and sponsorships to advance its mission. If you are interested in supporting the transformative work as a member or sponsor, kindly reach out via the website or email: info@bwre.com.

The writer, Hanna Afolabi, is the founder of BWRE, the founder and managing director of Mood and Space, and an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the sector. Follow Mood and Space on Instagram: @moodandspace or connect directly with her via LinkedIn.

Announcing our 2022-23 bursary recipients

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Chancerygate Foundation has announced the cohort of recipients of its bursary programme for the 2022-23 academic year. The four students of African and Caribbean heritage – Paris, Ty, Deyjohn and Shawn – are benefitting from the integrated support to enable them to pursue careers in the property sector through the bursary, mentorship, internship, and work experience opportunities.

We are pleased to welcome Ty, Shawn, Deyjohn and Paris as our new bursary recipients. They are young students interested in pursuing careers in the property sector and we believe the financial support, mentorship and work experience we are providing will accelerate their study and career goals,” said Amanda Walker, director of Chancerygate Foundation. “We are excited to be part of building their real estate careers and cannot wait to see what they achieve.”

Ty, Shawn, Deyjohn and Paris join three other recipients, who have benefitted from the £210,000 fund to support disadvantaged young people of African and Caribbean backgrounds. Since its inception, the bursary programme has supported qualifying students to build careers in the property sector through partnerships with Kingston University, London South Bank University (LSBU) and Loughborough University. Each recipient receives £10,000 per year to support them during their time in university.

Now, meet our four 2022-23 bursary recipients:

Ty

Ty is a first-year student at London South Bank University. Being a student of Caribbean descent living in London, Ty said the bursary has given him a great deal of stability, some degree of freedom and the ability to obtain essential tools for learning. 

I was able to buy a new laptop which I needed to gain access to a software application for my course. Studying has been an amazing and insightful experience, although challenging. I have found great interest in the field of the built environment and I am very grateful that I picked it.

Ty is excited that the foundation is also offering opportunities to build his work experience, partake in on-site trips, and matched him with a mentor who is on hand to assist him. “I am so grateful for this opportunity and would like to thank Chancerygate Foundation for this.

Shawn

Shawn, a first-year student of Loughborough University, is of Zimbabwean heritage. Shawn said the life-changing bursary has eased the burden of having to worry about how he will support himself financially in the university, hence allowing him to focus more on learning. 

I’m really enjoying the course so far and looking forward to learning more about quantity surveying and the built environment as I progress. The foundation has also helped me by providing a mentor, Mark Garrity, who I can reach out to if I have any questions related to my course.”

Deyjohn

For Deyjohn, being a bursary recipient is allowing him to grasp the full university experience without having to juggle work. Deyjohn is of Caribbean heritage and studying real estate management at Kingston University. He said the bursary has afforded him the opportunity to purchase a new laptop, books, take driving lessons and attend property events to further his dream of working in the sector.

“My course is going smoothly, although it’s a little tricky but there’s nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it. There’s a lot of support as the foundation has helped me through mentoring, building social skills and learning new things about the property industry.”

Paris

Paris, also a first year studying real estate management at Kingston University, is of Nigerian and Saint Lucian heritage. The bursary support has helped Paris to plan her finances properly for the first time, offset four months of bills, and obtain her first laptop to complete assignments on time. She said being a beneficiary has given her a sense of community in knowing that people care about her career progression. 

“If I need support, I know there is a team of experts ready to share their knowledge. I have also met peers in the real estate sector with similar backgrounds to me. As a whole, I am enjoying the course as there is a lot of content to cover, plus academic writing has helped build my reading and writing skills drastically.”

Building an inclusive property sector

Chancerygate Foundation was founded in 2020 to help encourage a more inclusive and diverse real estate sector, where young people of African and Caribbean backgrounds can thrive and succeed. Only 1.6% of the 35,306 Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) members who qualified in 2020 recorded as being of Black ethnicity. The foundation offers bursaries to qualifying students, allowing them to access RICS-accredited courses at higher education institutions to help level the playing field.

For students keen on a career in real estate, check if you are eligible for the Chancerygate Foundation bursary scheme.

Interested in learning more about the foundation or getting involved to empower the next generation, contact the Foundation Director, Amanda Walker at: awalker@chancerygate.com or 07703 344043.

Elizabeth Mulkern joins Chancerygate Foundation’s Board of Trustees to help ‘level the playing field’ in the property industry

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Elizabeth Mulkern has joined the Board of Trustees for Chancerygate Foundation – a national charity dedicated to building the careers of more disadvantaged young people of African and Caribbean heritage in the property sector.

Elizabeth brings to the trustee role a wealth of experience and expertise in social work spanning almost 35 years. Intrigued by the ethos and mission of the foundation, Elizabeth joined four other trustees of Chancerygate Foundation in the summer of last year to strengthen its leadership in addressing the lack of diversity in the property industry.

In 2020, only 1.6% of the over 35,000 members of the UK’s Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the industry’s qualification and governing body, identified as being Black or from ethnic minority backgrounds.

“I am thrilled to become a Trustee of this trailblazing organisation to help level the playing field in the property industry. With over three decades as a social worker, I have seen first-hand the barriers and discrimination faced by people because of their race, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds,” Elizabeth said. “I hope by being a Trustee, I will contribute meaningfully to supporting disadvantaged young students to reach their full potential.”  

Chancerygate Foundation’s mission is to break the existing barriers faced by young talents from Black African and Caribbean heritage in the property industry and provide career opportunities for their development. The foundation supports disadvantaged young people with interests in pursuing careers in the property sector through bursaries, mentorship, internship, and work experience opportunities.

Amanda Walker, director of Chancerygate Foundation, congratulated Elizabeth on her appointment as a Trustee of the foundation. “I am excited Elizabeth has joined our Trustees as she brings a depth of experience in social work and development that will help shape the delivery of our impact. I believe her input in the foundation’s governance will be immensely valuable to enhancing our objective of supporting many disadvantaged, young people to pursue careers in the property sector.”

Through partnerships with Kingston University, London South Bank University (LSBU) and Loughborough University, seven students have benefitted from the £210,000 fund to support their dreams of building careers in the property sector. Each recipient receives £10,000 per year to support them during their time at university.

As a trustee, Elizabeth will be involved in the process of selecting beneficiaries of the foundation’s programmes, ensuring they meet the set criteria and building stronger relationships with the young people supported by the foundation. 

Elizabeth believes the woefully disproportionate representation of Black people in the sector is mainly because of limited exposure to property-related careers and not having the connections or support system to help them chart these career paths.

“The opportunity to access the property industry is sometimes extremely limited for young people from minority backgrounds, although they have just as much drive and ambition as their more connected peers. Chancerygate Foundation is addressing these discrepancies through the charity’s programmes,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth hopes the property industry will support more diverse young people to jumpstart careers and reach their full potential in the sector, as it can generate a ripple effect.

“It is important that young Black people are not discouraged by an environment that may at times feel alien to them. With the financial support and career exposure the foundation provides, we are empowering them to mentor and encourage other disadvantaged young talents to take careers in the property industry to bring change.”

Elizabeth graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Social Studies and Social Work and later attained a qualification in Best Interests Assessment at a master’s level.

Read about our work at Chancerygate Foundation here.