The topic of Diversity and Inclusion is becoming ever more pertinent in the property world with a number of companies striving to improve diversity within their workforce. It is difficult to ascertain the most effective way to tackle the subject and which initiatives to implement to ensure that the best talent is being hired from a range of backgrounds, as well as how to retain this talent which will ultimately lead to systemic change and benefit a business by providing diversity of thought.
At Catella APAM our diversity, 57% female and 14 different nationalities in a workforce of 65 is reflective of the inclusive leadership culture of the company. Ideas from all levels of the business are encouraged, diverse views are generated, and change is embraced as we strive to be different. We embrace reverse mentorship, ‘ideas boxes’, ‘Tea & Talk’ initiatives as well as a wide raft of ‘wellbeing’ initiatives to ensure all team members feel valued. Our experience is that when employees feel heard employees enjoy coming into work. This was the principal reason I chose to accept a job offer from APAM.
Although Diversity and Inclusion naturally are coupled together, there are stark differences between the two. Diversity, by definition, is having a workforce with a variety of people however inclusion is a very crucial component of employee retention. If there is a big recruitment drive but employees do not feel aligned to a workplace’s culture, they will eventually leave which creates a high staff turnover, particularly amongst demographics who are not the majority. Using an initiative such as Reverse Mentoring can be a great aide in reducing this.
Reverse mentoring is essentially where a junior member of staff mentors a senior member about their career and experiences so far, aiming to provide younger people with a voice and give their perspective of entering the industry. From personal experience, mentees learn so much about the challenges young people face in the workplace and what senior leadership can do to change this. Another major benefit is that it allows young people to gain connections and a more personable relationship with directors, helping them forge their own careers. If employees from minority groups feel heard, senior leadership can address their concerns and in return increase the likelihood of retaining staff.
It is clear that one of the main reasons that the property industry has been historically less diverse is due to the lack of education and awareness of the many opportunities that are available. There needs to be a collective drive within the industry in educating young people from different socioeconomic backgrounds about Real Estate, as well as improving the barriers to entry to the profession through sponsorship and apprenticeships. Whilst Reverse Mentoring will not change these issues overnight, it is an instrumental initiative that can help bridge the understanding of employee experiences between different generations, races, religions and genders in order to influence change and provide a platform to employees who may feel unheard.
Article written by Chloe Prince, Asset Manager at Catella APAM