As part of Black History Month, Bola Abisogun OBE reflects on the need for continual change in the construction industry in recognising and rewarding BAME professionals
1 OCT 2019
October marks Black History Month – a celebration of black people's achievements throughout history – and to mark the occasion, we're shining a light on Bola Abisogun FRICS who was awarded an OBE by the Queen this year, for his services to diversity and to young people in the construction industry.
Despite the skills shortages in the industry, there is still a huge disparity of BAME individuals (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) in the surveying profession, yet Bola is on a mission to change this by helping to improve career opportunities for all and transform the industry of today.
Bola's pursuit to encourage greater ethnic diversity in construction led to him founding construction and project management business UrbanIS in 2003, with the aim of delivering inclusive solutions through the engagement of 'hard to reach' groups in and across inner-city London boroughs.
Over the past 16 years, the firm has grown and Bola has dedicated himself to working with and encouraging industry leaders, academics, MP's and professional bodies to improve engagement and opportunities for BAME professionals in construction.
As part of this, Bola established DiverseCity Surveyors (DCS) – a highly successful peer-to-peer network - in 2006 to offer quality advice and support services, as well as educational training and CPD, to BAME surveyors who are members of RICS, irrespective of their physical location.
Bola commented: "The key focus – and ultimate aim – for DCS moving forward is to become the network of choice to help the surveying profession grow the BAME talent pool."
Last year, the Board of DiverseCity Surveyors were invited to a roundtable discussion at 10 Downing Street, where they spoke with Mr Nero Ughwujabo, the Prime Minister's Special Advisor on social justice, young people and opportunities, about their future aspirations for the profession, and the importance of inspiring the next generation of diverse talent.
Amongst Bola's other diversity commitments, he is actively involved with the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG), through its Ethnic Minority Role Model Programme and is the Chair of the London Advisory Board's 'Moving on Up' (MoU) initiative (funded by Trust for London and the City Bridge Trust). Moving on Up aims to create sustainable employment opportunities, in higher earning industries, for young black men. With the unwavering support of London Mayor, Sadiq Khan via his WIN Initiative, MoU Phase 2 is focussing primarily on three sectors; Construction, Technology and Finance.
Bola is also a member of the RICS London Regional Board and a regular media spokesperson on issues around diversity and inclusion, including the need for ethnicity pay gap legislation.
"Industry discrimination experienced by BAME professionals is as well documented today as it was more than 20 years ago. Therefore, awareness initiatives such as Black History Month play an important role in recognising that talent and drive have no colour and that all people – regardless of race – are capable of achieving great things if they are willing to work hard."
He adds: "Working closely with the founders of the Surveyorhood, it is vitally important that we, as a profession and industry, once and for all, break the cycle of wasted and under-employed professional talent in order to see a fully representative, diverse and culturally competent talent pool."
Business & management