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News & opinion

28 FEB 2020

Let your background give you extra drive − it hasn’t held me back!

The Government Property Profession (GPP) is committed to the diversity and inclusion agenda. We currently have a community with 40% female representation across government, but just 33% in the most senior roles. We understand there is work to be done to improve this. The GPP has five senior diversity and inclusion champions which include race, disability, inclusion, social mobility and gender.

Our gender champion is Ann Carter-Gray, who is Head of Estates for the Cabinet office. Ann is responsible for setting the strategic direction for Cabinet Office estates in budgets and accommodation. Ann has the responsibility for ensuring CO business units have appropriate accomodation in the right location. The accommodation consists of 37 holdings, over 6,000 staff and running costs of £37 million. In this blog, Ann speaks about her passion for diversity and inclusion, particularly the gender and social mobility agendas.

Looking at the sentiment behind the title I’ve chosen for this blog post, I only wish I had realised it many years ago and used it to give me more self-confidence, to realise that anything is possible.

There is a lot we can be doing to support women in the workplace. As gender champion I am passionate about exploring new ways of working, including supporting ways of returning to work, coaching and mentoring sessions alongside developing our membership of Real Estate Balance.

When I was a child, my family became homeless and lived in a caravan for nine years. My parents had bought a small piece of land and created a very small farm holding. It took those nine years to work their way through the planning system and save sufficient money before we could build a home on it.

That’s what sparked my interest in land holding, planning and property. With a rural background my interests still include land, farming and antiques, well mainly flea market finds!. I thought I’d become a land agent, but here I am, a senior civil servant working as Head of Estates for the Cabinet Office.

It’s great to be part of an organisation where I have flexibility over when and where I work. When I needed to reduce my hours, because of caring responsibilities for my mother and brother, I was able to go part-time, and then back to full-time working when I was ready.

I would like to see the numbers of women in the profession grow, and for more to be seen in senior roles - hence why I am championing women in the profession.

I think that getting on and doing a really good job to the best of your ability whatever your background is the most important thing. Throughout my career I have shown that I’m committed to my job as well as my own development and progression. The great support that I received from mentors, champions and business coaches has made me a strong advocate for helping others which I can now develop as a GPP Gender Champion.

There were very few women when I started out. Often, I’d be the only female in the room at meetings: my colleagues referred to me as the ‘honorary man’. But it’s getting much better in the property world at all levels and the advice I would offer to those wanting to progress in a male-dominated industry is: be the best that you can be and you will be recognised for that.

RICS are driving the creation of a diverse workforce, fit for the future