As we celebrate International Women's Day, we catch up with Amanda Clack FRICS on her experience of being the second female RICS President, the challenges to creating a more diverse and inclusive profession, and the key achievements so far.

Amanda Clack

How have the first eight months as President been so far?

Being President of RICS is a huge honour. As the global ambassador for our profession it has been incredible to see first-hand the breadth and reach of the profession both in terms of geography and also overall diversity. 

My first overseas trip was to Japan, where I gave a presentation on financing infrastructure to 600 professionals in Tokyo along with meeting senior government Ministers. I have presented to 850 students at the RICS School of the Built Environment with Amity University, as we prepare to open the second school in Mumbai later this year. I have also given out diplomas to our talented new professionals and met 950 QS and construction professionals in Manchester. 

We are advising governments on policy relating to land, construction, infrastructure, housing and property, as well as continuing to develop our standards work in collaboration with other professional bodies for ethics, land, construction and property. 

There is certainly a lot going on as we move towards the 150th anniversary of the profession next year.

My themes as President, infrastructure, cities and the war for talent, have resonated across various markets. Whether chairing roundtables or meeting senior government ministers on infrastructure from around the globe, and speaking about cities linking land and rapid urbanisation to infrastructure. We are focusing on the skills, diversity and inclusion agenda with CEOs, our fellow professional organisations and award winners for Women of the Future, as well as hosting events for Coming Out Day and continuing the Young Surveyor of the Year award.

Have you noticed any changes in the profession with regards to gender equality since you first qualified?

The good news is the dial is changing. Through the report we produced last year ‘Building Inclusivity: Laying the foundations for the future’ and the Inclusive Employer Quality Mark (IEQM) we now have over 135 firms, large and small (SMEs), signed up to address the diversity and inclusion agenda. They represent over 150,000 employees. 

Senior leaders understand this agenda. The main issues to be addressed now are attracting top talent into the sector, retaining it mid-career, and supporting middle managers to be champions. 

We are having an impact. The number of female professionals in surveying has risen over the last decade from 6% to 14%, with student female professionals at 21%. But the reality is that to address the number one concern of employers, skills shortages, we need to encourage more women to see this as a great career choice.

There is also more to do on the wider diversity and inclusion agenda. Only 1.2% of the profession is Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), those with disabilities are less than 1% and the fact we have no data for LGBT means we need to understand and address all aspects, including social exclusion, to truly have a diverse and inclusive profession. 

I hope the fact we are at least talking about it means that we are raising awareness of the issue and stand a chance of addressing the opportunity here.

Which RICS initiatives have you been involved in that promote gender equality?

The IEQM is the obvious one as this works with our firms, both large and SMEs, to address diversity and inclusion in the workplace – I encourage all firms to sign up.

We also now sponsor the Women of the Future Awards here in the UK and as they move to Asia for the first time. 

The female talent that enters is shortlisted and ultimately wins this prodigious award for real estate, construction and infrastructure. It helps to showcase the top female talent in the profession.
Women of the Future Awards 2015
I now chair the Visible Women’s group that brings together senior women to share experiences and drive change across the profession.

We are also piloting a mentoring programme for women in South Africa and in the UK. Now some 6 months into the programme it is seen to be a real success by both mentors and mentees. 

What are the top 3 things needed to drive gender equality in the workplace?

  1. Leadership and vision starting from the top of the organisation and working through to all levels to help drive the necessary organisational and cultural change through effective action planning.
  2. A real focus on staff retention that doesn’t see precious top talent leave the sector as they have become disillusioned mid-career. We must address things such as parental leave, flexible working, and career progression.
  3. Proactive support to under-represented minorities, such as women, that allows everyone to bring themselves to work every day – through support such as coaching, mentoring and networking groups.

What is your ambition for the profession to attract and retain more women?

It needs to start at school level. By educating the educators – parents and teachers – that the built and natural environment offers a great career.

We need to promote what we all do, through #lovesurveying, by explaining why we all love our jobs and the impact we have on people’s lives.

That we keep a focus in this area to help change the dial to a point where we no longer need to be talking about it!

What are you looking forward to the most in the second part of your presidency?

Continuing the journey. Delivering on the agenda. Meeting more amazing professionals. 

Hopefully doing a good job. Sharing my experiences. Getting RICS ready to celebrate our 150th Anniversary next year.

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