The property sector shapes our environment and life experiences – where we live, work and play. However, as the world becomes increasingly diverse, the property and real estate sector remains one of the industries that is struggling to attract more people from a wider variety of ethnic backgrounds to reflect the changing global demographic in its workforce.
Historically, the property industry has seen low levels of representation of Black professionals over the years. In 2020, only 1.6% of the over 35,000 members of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in the UK identified as being Black or from ethnic minority backgrounds. RICS promotes and enforces the highest professional qualifications and standards in the property industry.
As the world celebrates Black History Month on the theme ‘Time for Change: Action Not Words’, Chancerygate Foundation is shining a spotlight on the institutional problem and highlighting actions that can help to collectively bring change. Since its launch in 2020, Chancerygate Foundation has helped to encourage and jumpstart the careers of young talents from Black African and Caribbean heritage in the property industry. The foundation supports disadvantaged Black young people with an interest in pursuing careers in the property sector with bursaries and opportunities for mentorship, internship, and work experience.
Through partnerships with Kingston University, London South Bank University (LSBU) and now Loughborough University, seven students from Black African and Caribbean heritage 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 their living expenses.
Life changing experience
One of the Chancerygate bursary beneficiaries, Tyreece Philips, a Building Surveying student at LSBU who grew up with his Black Caribbean family in Wolverhampton, believes the access to financial and career support has been life-changing. “Receiving this bursary has made my university experience the best possible it could have been and enabled me to access things that will contribute to my studies,” Tyreece said. “I plan to use this support to my advantage and become a successful chartered surveyor and other future aspirations to get involved in other specifics of the built environment.”
Laying the foundations
Beyond the bursary, Chancerygate Foundation provides mentorship, internship and work experience opportunities to young Black African and Caribbean students to expose them to careers in the industry and help with their professional development. Young people are given the professional experience, guidance, and motivation to sustain their interest and hopes in charting a career in the industry. Chancerygate Foundation is also in partnership with 10,000 Black Interns, an organisation that seeks to help young Black people to secure internships across different sectors and business functions.
Chancerygate Foundation director, Amanda Walker, believes these “bold actions are not only helping to dismantle systemic barriers faced by people of colour in the sector but also laying the foundations to create a diverse and inclusive career workforce that benefits more minority families and communities as well as the nation.”
Setting up to succeed
Kemi Omoyele, a second-year building survey student of Nigerian heritage at Kingston University, is a recipient of the Chancerygate Foundation bursary. Kemi said her first exposure to the real estate sector was through her grandfather, a property developer. Her interest peaked after an apprenticeship with an estate agent, and she began looking into opportunities to pursue her education and career as a building surveyor. “I feel like this bursary is setting me up to succeed. I don’t have to worry about putting so much time into working and rather focus on my course 100 per cent.”
As the first in her family with a chance to graduate from the university, she is determined to achieve the highest accreditation possible in her field. “The mentoring support is going to be hugely valuable while the work experience will help me grow professionally and give me an edge once I graduate,” Kemi added.
Small actions drive big change
Chairman of the Chancerygate Foundation, Andrew Johnson, believes the huge ethnic disparity in the workforce of the property industry demands collective action. “We must all be catalysts for change in addressing this challenge through small actions that drive big change. Let’s make it our goal to raise the level of Black African and Caribbean representation by attracting and retaining more young students and graduates into the sector as we are all accountable for building a more inclusive and diverse industry that benefits more people.”
Black History Month is the time of the year to not only celebrate and recognise the achievements and contributions of Black people across the industry but also a moment to recalibrate our efforts and increase our pace to break down all barriers that are hampering Black people from pursuing career paths and progressing in the workplace.
Here are some actions businesses can take to attract, retain and shore up the inclusion of young talents from Black African and Caribbean backgrounds:
- Expose more younger students in high schools and colleges to careers in the industry through fairs, conferences, and talks
- Provide more targeted internship opportunities
- Run mentorship and training programmes targeted at young talents from diverse backgrounds
- Recruit talents and encourage their progression through the profession
Take action today to build a property industry which is supportive of more Black African and Caribbean talents to thrive. It is time for change!
Read about our work at Chancerygate Foundation here or contact the Foundation director, Amanda Walker: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07703 344043.