My personal inspiration
As soon as I saw the announcement that Faithful+Gould were looking to appoint a new National ED&I Lead, I knew I had to get involved. For a start, I hadn’t realised all the hard work that had been done by Faithful+Gould to date, so I felt more visibility and communication was needed if we’re to succeed in this space. My own lived experience has been strikingly lacking in equality, diversity and inclusion, and I don’t want it to be like that for others.
Growing up as a Middle Easterner with a Muslim background, I have faced different instances of racism, in education, in my previous working life and on social media. In education and at work, I’ve felt expected to pretend that racism didn’t happen. It was understood that there were no consequences for the perpetrators. I felt I had to hide aspects of my life, of who I am—my Muslim background, my culture and heritage.
Our industry has made considerable strides recently but there is much more to be done and I want to be at the forefront. I’m very pleased to lead this initiative at Faithful+Gould, to get people excited about it, and hopefully to shake things up. It feels like a pivotal time for a reset—community and all its meanings has come into sharp focus during the pandemic, when we’ve had to find new ways of relating to each other at work and in our personal lives.
The drive to make a difference
I know that racism is just one example of discrimination, but it shares parallels with so many other forms. I plan to centre my approach around all nine protected characteristics of the UK’s Equality Act 2010 (gender reassignment; sex; sexual orientation; age; disability; race; religion or belief; marriage and partnership; pregnancy and maternity). There’s scope to shed more light on and address certain inequities including; socioeconomic inequality, neurodiversity, hidden conditions, and parenting/caring discrimination.
The built environment is known for being behind the curve in its diversity and inclusion advancement. Industry bodies such as RICS are working to improve this and it is important for Faithful+Gould to be a part of that wider effort. It is not enough to put our own house in order; we need to play our part in transforming our industry’s culture, which suffers not only from the inequalities listed above, but also from a cultural division between the office and site environments. We have an opportunity to become ED&I leaders in the industry and I find that truly exciting.
In my new additional role, I’m supported by Ella Sanders, Client Development Manager in Warrington, as deputy lead, and Kevin Williams. our Regional Managing Director for London and the South-East, is our board sponsor.
We also have a group of regional ED&I Reps who represent each region, and ED&I Champions who volunteer their time and will facilitate key actions.
Our strategy – The Clear Company
We are partnering with The Clear Company who have collaborated with us on our strategy for the next three years, which is launching this month and moves us towards Clear assured platinum accreditation in their Diversity & Inclusion standard. The Clear Company has audited our policies and procedures, carried out surveys with over 3,000 respondents, and held over 20 focus groups and stakeholder interviews with our people. The internal response demonstrates that our people have a view on this and that there is an appetite for change.
Our people should feel empowered to get involved, to be open to this journey, and to enter into it with a positive mindset. Individually and collectively, we must ask ourselves difficult questions and be receptive to the answers. We all have unconscious biases, me included, and we have to be willing to learn and unlearn together and to engage in self-development. From this year, all employees, no matter where they are in their career, will set an ED&I performance objective and that feels like a significant step, something we’ve never had at Faithful+Gould before.
This benefits everyone
A more inclusive culture is good for us as individuals, for our families, our communities, and as a business, including our clients and supply chains. The business case is infallible. McKinsey research in 2018 concluded that diverse organisations are more robust, agile and successful than those who fail to make the connection between ED&I and commercial advantage.
This can’t be an add-on or a nice-to-have. It has to become integral. We’re not going to get there overnight; we admittedly have hard work ahead to put even the basics in place. But I’m totally up for this challenge, I want to represent you and work with you to celebrate our diversity and embed a warmer culture where everyone is explicitly and equally valued.