Point of privilege

Charlotte Dawidek, surveyor in JLL’s living capital markets team and co-chair of Real Estate Balance’s NextGen Committee gives a personal view of privilege in the property industry

Having privilege does not mean life is easy: it means who you are or where you come from has not made it harder.

Charlotte Dawidek, UK living capital markets surveyor , JLL

Privilege, and the barriers to entry in real estate it creates, is something that has been on my mind. We have been hearing about ‘white privilege’ following the increased momentum of the global Black Lives Matter movement and this has led me to consider my own privilege in a wider context and how it has helped me in my career.

Having privilege does not mean life is easy – it means who you are or where you come from has not made it harder. When I think about my background, it is clear that privilege has removed some of the barriers to entry guarding our industry. For example, I do not think I would even know about real estate as a profession if I had not had a friend at school whose father was a surveyor.

I was even more fortunate when he offered me work experience. This was a life-defining moment for me and without it, I doubt I would be enjoying a career in real estate today. It showed me an industry that is interesting and exciting but even more importantly, it gave me the invaluable work experience that many employers still look for when hiring graduates.

I am conscious that talking about privilege is not popular with some people. Perhaps that is because it makes them feel that it takes away from their hard work and achievements. While I understand why they might feel this way, I also want to challenge this thinking.

I feel it is vital that we discuss privilege, understand it and then take action. The reality is that as things stand, opportunities in real estate are not equal for all – and that cannot be right, can it?

If you are reading this, I would ask you to think about your own privilege for a moment. Were there any points in your career where you benefitted from knowing someone in the industry?

It is important that we recognise the barriers that exist for some people, before we start to dismantle them to build a better, more inclusive real estate sector that is open to everyone.

This article first appeared in Property Week on 11 September, 2020