Racial inequality: the
pace of change has been too slow, we must speed things up

Chris Ireland, UK CEO at JLL reflects on racial injustice and inequality within the real estate sector and wider society.

October 05, 2020

The racial violence that we’ve all seen in the news in the last few months has been deeply disturbing.  

The subsequent protests, by a group that have also been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 has brought into sharp focus the prevalence of racial injustice and inequality, at both a global and UK level.  

We commend EG for using its position in the industry to help create a truly inclusive sector. Their race diversity survey, highlights the stark reality of racial inequality, and reading the lived experiences from so many is sobering.  

The property industry, like many other sectors, has been too slow to address racial inequality 

It is disheartening to learn that 81% of respondents to EG’s race diversity survey believe that you need to have connections to the industry to get in and get ahead.  

We must change how we attract entry level talent into the industry. Schools, universities and apprenticeships are key to making real estate representative of the society we live in.  

Three quarters (76%) of respondents to the survey feel that the industry has failed to hire ethnically underrepresented people into senior positions.  

Employers also have to think more broadly about opening themselves up to talented people from other industries and professions. 

At JLL, to accelerate our efforts we have a race equality action plan underway.  Our colleagues have told us we need to change, and the findings from this survey have confirmed to me that that our plan must keep evolving. Only through a concerted effort will we see a step change.  Our plan includes:  

  • We have had open discussions with our ethnically underrepresented colleagues to understand more about their experiences within the workplace and what more they feel we can do to work towards race equality.  
  •  On the back of EG’s wider industry findings, we will run further sessions with our colleagues. I want to fully understand what JLL can learn from to build a better business.  
  • EG’s findings have illustrated that there are behaviours and cultures within the industry that are archaic. We are equipping our own line managers to run inclusive teams by undertaking mandatory training and giving them access to more learning resources. 
  • We are implementing a reverse mentoring programme for 50 senior leaders to educate on the everyday struggles of being from ethnically underrepresented groups. 
  • Forming a group of Race for Change ethnic diversity advocates, who support our ethnically underrepresented colleagues, and act as an impartial sounding board if any difficulties in the workplace arise.  

If ever there was an impetus for change this is it. Change is long overdue. Change cannot be ignored. It’s not been a level playing field and we owe it to ourselves, the industry and the communities we work in to create a truly inclusive sector.  

EG Podcast: Enough is Enough 

Chris Ireland joined EG editor Samantha McClary and reporter Lucy Alderson, along with Bola Abisogun, founder of DiverseCity Surveyors and Ghislaine Halpenny, director of strategy and external affairs at the British Property Federation to discuss what the findings of EG’s race diversity survey mean and, most importantly, how they have to spur the industry and all of us into making a change. Listen to the podcast here: