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News & opinion

2 JUL 2018

Flying the flag for LGBT Pride

Freehold, together with Changing the Face of Property (CTFOP), took part in this year’s Pride in London Parade on Saturday 7 July. Over 80 members and guests from both groups marched together raising the profile of LGBT professionals within the property and construction industries and highlighting that we are a welcoming career choice for the next generation.

This is Freehold’s fifth consecutive year of marching in the Pride. The day started with a fun pre-Pride brunch, hosted by Cushman & Wakefield, where Pride marchers gathered to network and socialise ahead of what was a sunny, hot and lively day. All wearing matching branded t-shirts, participants marched along the usual route: from Great Portland Street, via Regents Street, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square to Whitehall. The route was packed with thousands of spectators.

Despite great progress in recent years, Freehold and CFTOP marching together at Pride is as important as ever as there are still a large number of LGBT professionals that feel uncomfortable, hindered or are hiding their sexuality or gender at work. Latest research shows that two-thirds of LGBT professionals still feel their sexuality or gender presents a barrier to their career progression in construction.

Freehold and CFTOP are extremely grateful for the support of many sponsors and supporters including the RICS. Without them this year’s march would not be possible. Both groups are planning to take part in Pride next year and would welcome members and other professionals from the industry to join them.

Freehold is the leading support and networking forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender real estate professionals working within the real estate sector. Since its official launch in September 2011, the group has grown to over 1000 members and continues to expand. Its members include building surveyors, valuation surveyors, agency surveyors, asset managers, architects, developers, investors and property lawyers from both the public and private sector. With the backing and support of the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, Stonewall, the aim of Freehold is to address the equality gap for the LGBT community.

If you would like to become a member of Freehold please register your interest

Changing the Face of Property (Property Needs You) is a UK wide initiative that aims to work with young people, parents, teachers and careers advisors to help young people make the most out of the opportunities that the property sector could offer career wise. The initiative is run by a group of the major property firms with the mission to work together to raise awareness of the great career opportunities available across the property professions.

Further information can be found on CTFOP website

Our bright rainbow flag flew outside our Headquarters at Parliament Square, whilst our rainbow pin badges celebrate the LGBT community in our industry.

During this year’s Pride celebrations, we also asked our industry professionals what Pride means to them and what more can the built environment sector do to ensure it is a place where diversity is truly celebrated, with equal opportunities for all.

"I finally feel accepted for who I really am"

Christina Riley, senior planner and vice chair of the Kier LGBT+ & Allies Network

"Pride matters to me as a transgender female in the construction sector because, for the first time in 25 years, I finally feel accepted for who I really am. The chance to march through London with the Building Equality Network group of 21 companies and next to the InterEngineering Network shows just how far the industry has come in a short space of time, with over 500 people joining London Pride from our industry this year. This sends a powerful message across the sector on diversity and inclusion to our supply chain, clients and employees.

"If we are to change the perception of the industry to be more inclusive collaboration is everything. There are more supportive LGBT networks than ever with LGBT Construct, Building Equality, InterEngineering, Planning Out, Off Site, Open Land and Architect LGBT with organisations such as RICS, GoConstruct, Supply Chain School and the Royal Academy of Engineering all moving on towards greater inclusion. Times are changing, and I encourage everyone to join the conversation and collaborate for the greater good for the people in our industry."

Our commitment to Pride will continue beyond the parade to ensure we encourage talent into our business and demonstrate that everyone can have a successful and prosperous career within the construction industry.

"An opportunity for Mace to celebrate inclusiveness across our workforce"

Steve Gillingham, director for the north, Mace

"This is our second year participating in Manchester Pride and we are proud to participate again. Pride is an opportunity for Mace to celebrate inclusiveness across our workforce and show our commitment to equal opportunities for every member of staff. It also allows us to raise awareness of LGBT issues within our workforce and help the construction industry further develop as an open and welcoming environment in which to work.

"In order to truly reflect the people we work with, and help solve client’s challenges, firms need to champion diversity, individuality and equal opportunities for all. Our commitment to Pride will continue beyond the parade to ensure we encourage talent into our business and demonstrate that everyone can have a successful and prosperous career within the construction industry, and not be held back by prejudice based on their beliefs, background, sex or sexuality."

"The fight for equality cannot be fought simply by those who don’t already have the privilege of equality in the first place"

Natasha Stone, senior cost commercial manager at Arcadis

"To me, Pride represents freedom to be who you really are. It’s a celebration of magnificent diversity and, as a straight ally, I believe that we should all support each other, and embrace unconditional acceptance. Our industry, including RICS, is taking large steps to redress the balance, but we still have a long way to go. Companies such as my employer, Arcadis, have diversity and inclusion groups which give our communities a voice, providing a way to assess and implement equality policies, created by those that they affect directly.

"However, I believe that even if we don’t consider ourselves as part of the group affected, we should stand up and support those who are. The fight for equality cannot be fought simply by those who don’t already have the privilege of equality in the first place. That fight needs to be the challenge for every last one of us – only then will there truly be equal opportunities for us all. Pride is a time to celebrate the important contributions of the LGBT+ community to society, demonstrate the value of diversity and inclusion and to continue to call for equal rights for LGBT+ people around the world."

"We have a job to help shape a better world"

Zach Wilcox, senior consultant at Arup and chair of its Connect Out group – the firm’s LGBT network

"Pride Week at Arup is for everyone; our LGBT+ colleagues and allies, across all UK offices. During the week, we provide advice and support for LGBT+ issues in the workplace, share stories about why Pride is important at Arup and 'wear the rainbow' to visually demonstrate support for the LGBT+ community. The week culminates in Arup employees marching in Pride in London on Saturday 7 July.

"But, we must do more to make Arup, and the wider industry, more inclusive. We have a job to help shape a better world  in the buildings and infrastructure we design and the places we develop and we can only shape more inclusive environments for our diverse cities if we have colleagues from diverse backgrounds. From ensuring new office buildings have multi-faith prayer rooms to developing planning policy that supports LGBT+ community spaces, we have a responsibility as built environment professionals to design for diversity and inclusion. When we as a sector can fully embrace and implement that perspective, we will be fulfilling our role in celebrating diversity to shape a better world."

Show your Pride | Rainbow pin badge

RICS Rainbow pin badges are available upon request (e. for a small donation of £2. All funds from the pin badges will go towards LandAid who work with charities that support homeless young people including those who identify as LGBT.