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News & opinion

17 MAY 2019

IDAHoBiT 2019: how far has the property industry come?

There are many notable dates in the LGBT+ calendar which are celebrated both in our community and businesses, so what sets 17 May apart?

The day marks the anniversary of homosexuality no longer being listed as a disease by the World Health Organisation in 1990 and was first celebrated in 2005.

2005 isn't that long ago, I was in the infancy of my property career and had faced homophobic "banter" within the working environment which is hard to believe when you think in a few short weeks Freehold, Changing the Face of Property and RICS will be marching in Pride in London for the fifth year.

To me, this stands as a reminder of how far society has evolved in a short space of time and how the property industry has progressed in an even shorter time.

I thought I was the only LGBT+ surveyor within JLL and possibly the industry until 2011 when a solicitor I worked with asked if I had heard about Freehold, the LGBT+ Property Network. I hadn't, but I made it my mission to find out more.

Kelly Canterford
Kelly Canterford

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I soon signed up as a member and at each event scoured the name badges for colleagues, surely, I couldn't be the only one in my company?

It wasn't long before I found out I wasn't and a quickly taken photo of me and my other LGBT+ colleagues was sent for the weekly internal newspaper. We thought we'd get the back page if we were lucky – we weren't, we made the front page.

I can honestly say this changed my working life. While I was already out in the workplace my confidence about being 'out' grew. My colleagues and I formed an internal LGBT+ network and other property companies followed suit. Awareness of LGBT+ issues grew across the industry and attitudes changed.

Many people will proudly wear their rainbow lanyard this IDAHoBiT day to show they are allies, their support makes it easier to be LGBT+ in the property industry. But I know there's still a lot we need to do, there is a Bi and a T in the day name, and we need to make sure Biphobia and Transphobia is called out.

Just because you don't "get it" or "understand it" doesn't mean to say you get to judge it. Be mindful and respectful of others. I don't understand people that don't like cheese, but I'm not mean to them.