8 steps to nurture diversity and inclusion in your organisation

“If your clients and peers are becoming diverse and you’re not, you’ll be left behind.”

Ros Rowe, real estate tax partner, PwC

Both our research and work with clients highlights the growing recognition of the importance of diversity within the real estate industry.

But there is still some uncertainty about the most effective ways to promote it. So how can you make a tangible difference and realise the benefits from this?


How can your organisation become more inclusive?

1Get out there
The first and in many ways most important step is for the real estate industry to be more visible in promoting itself to a broader set of recruits. Role models can help to convey the message that this is an industry that embraces diversity.
“Real estate has been the best kept secret in the job market. It’s important to get out to schools and universities and tell young people about all the opportunities on offer,” says Craig Hughes, UK real estate leader.
2Set a vision of what you want to achieve
As part of the tone from the top, it’s important to be transparent about what you want to achieve in areas such as the proportion of women or people from ethnic minorities on the board, set policies around this and track/report progress.
3Learn from other industries
“There’s no point reinventing the wheel,” says Saira Choudhry, a director in our real estate assurance team. “It’s important to look at how other industries such as communications and pharmaceuticals have achieved greater diversity and how this can be applied in real estate”.
4Look further afield
By simply focusing on traditional recruitment channels you could be missing many great people. At PwC, we’ve broadened our traditional graduate intake by developing a new higher apprenticeship scheme for school leavers. A number of apprentices are working towards their Association of Tax Technician qualifications within our real estate team. “I’ve been immensely impressed by the drive and contribution of our apprentices. It’s opened my eyes to the fact that top talent doesn’t just come from top universities,” says Foong Ng, a senior manager in our real estate tax team.
5Embrace flexibility
Flexible working is hugely valuable in helping people to balance careers and children, but the scope and benefits actually go much further. “People are the best judges of how to use their time. That’s why home working and other forms of flexibility are so beneficial for both the company and the employee,” says Vickie Tallon, a manager in our real estate assurance team. “If a man rather than a woman asks to work part-time this can still raise eyebrows. People question his commitment. But why, when there are so many reasons why this might be beneficial both personally and professionally. His contribution should be judged on what he does when he is at work, not why he isn’t there full-time,” says Foong Ng.
6Look beyond the stereotype
It’s easy to look at people who fit a certain stereotype and make the wrong assumptions about them. “There is a lot of hidden disability in the workplace that we may miss or respond to in the wrong way. Dyslexia is a very common example of this,” says Saira Choudhry. “People often look at someone who fits the traditional professional mould and assume that they won’t have the insight and empathy that comes from having had struggles in life. But everyone is different and everyone has challenges, so we shouldn’t simply pigeonhole people,” says Craig Hughes.
7Encourage people to network
At PwC, we’ve developed networks covering areas ranging from gender and disability to various faiths. “These networks provide support and awareness in their own right. But equally important is how people within these networks come to together to share ideas and develop partnership initiatives,” says Saira Choudhry.
8Give everyone a chance to engage in their own way
Relationships don’t just have to be built over a bottle of fizz or a trip to the rugby. Inclusiveness means embracing these and other possibilities, especially when people have so many different tastes, cultural norms (e.g. prohibitions on alcohol) and demands on their time (e.g. young children). “In a sign of how things are changing I was recently invited on a cookery course, which I assume they thought would be more appropriate than a trip to the rugby. In fact, I actually much prefer rugby to cooking, but it was good to know things are opening up,” says Ros Rowe.