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News & opinion

22 OCT 2021

Black History Month: New members on positive change

In celebration of Black History Month in the UK, RICS spoke with two new members in the UK and discovered what attracted them into surveying and whether they are witnessing positive change in the profession.

What attracted you to surveying as a career?

Alice: I was initially attracted at the prospects of working internationally and was told that being a chartered surveyor is a passport to the world.

Ola: Initially it was just the curiosity of finding out about the property industry. None of it was taught in schools. Then I started dealing with interesting buildings and complex transactions which really challenged me, and I started attending inspections of buildings that really inspired me. Put together, surveying as a career pulls together both my analytical and the adventurous, more creative side of me.

Do you feel that the surveying profession and built environment is becoming more diverse and inclusive?

Ola: Yes, I think we are seeing the profession become more diverse and inclusive.

Alice: There are pockets that are improving. Statistically, especially at early career levels, things have improved, and you see so many people from different walks joining the industry. However, it is clear that at more senior leadership levels, there remains work to be done. The composition of leadership teams at many companies can give the wrong impression and make people feel like they must look or be a certain way to get to the top. This is changing but a bit slower than is desirable.

Have you noticed/experienced positive change over the last year related to diversity and inclusion? Eg, examples of positive action, greater flexibility in the workplace, improved visibility of diverse professionals?

Alice: One of the best things that has happened is that people have started to have more conversations about diversity, particularly when it comes to matters of race. Conversations have been sparked through notable events, making it easier to talk about difficult topics and provide the catalyst for change.

Ola: I have noticed the RICS’ initiative to advance inclusion for black professionals. Anecdotally I have seen a few promotions into senior management. Their achievements give me hope for the future and something to work towards.

What more can be done to create a diverse and inclusive profession?

Ola: I hold firm that RICS must take a leading role in training the next generation of surveyors - by upskilling members by providing leadership skills training and conducting pay studies (i.e., ethnicity, gender, disability). I believe RICS has started to engage diverse secondary schools & colleges and should continue to do so to introduce more young people into the profession. I think the industry as an option should be introduced at secondary & above levels, as a module in subjects including geography and business.

Alice: My personal ambition is to inspire people from underrepresented groups so that the construction industry is the number one choice for them, and they would find it as enjoyable as I do, and most importantly, feel included. That is why I enjoy being a STEM ambassador and speaking to people about what I do. That said, I also understand there is a need to make strategic decisions to make our industry more accessible through measurable actions. Within my company, we have an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion strategy to make our business more inclusive for all people.

The theme of Black History Month this year is ‘Proud to Be…’ what makes you proud to be a surveyor?

Alice: I am proud to be a surveyor and that my job lets me have the opportunity to shape the built environment and have an impact on other people’s lives.

Ola: I am proud to be a surveyor and to work in an industry that forms the basis on which society is built. A basis that is essential, vital and a source of inspiration.

Alice Graham MRICS
Alice Graham MRICS - Quantity Surveyor Faithful & Gould | WICE Awards Best Quantity Surveyor 2021
Ola Alade MRICS
Ola Alade MRICS - Asset Manager, The Arch Company | Young Surveyor of the Year 2021 Nominee