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.
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: email@example.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.< Back to News