Unlocking the opportunity of social mobility

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18 October 2023

04:00 PM

Savills, 33 Margaret St, London W1G 0JD

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The latest Real Estate Balance industry survey asked participants about their social background for the first time, with the findings suggesting that professionals in our industry are more privileged than the population on average. 

Employee responses indicated a higher level of privilege compared to the nation as a whole on two out of three measures of social mobility with 64% of employees coming from a higher socioeconomic background compared to a 37% national average and 24% having attended independent school compared to a 7.5% national average.

Further evidence that we as an industry have much to learn when it comes to social mobility includes the findings in the JLL Foundation UK-backed Socio-economic Diversity in the Real Estate Sector research by Bridge Group in 2020 and that real estate and construction companies represent only three per cent of firms in the 2022 Social Mobility Employer Index. 

What can we do to ensure that our industry is more inclusive and reflective of the community it serves? We know diverse and inclusive organisations perform better on every level so how can we unlock opportunities for those from underrepresented socioeconomic backgrounds in order that they and real estate businesses can realise their potential?

Our panel of social mobility experts will debate this complex topic and discuss how we can widen access with non-traditional pathways, reassess our recruitment and retention practices, implement inclusive cultures and make a difference in our communities through outreach work.


Chris Reeve

Chris Reeve, Regional Market Leader for London, PwC

Chris, born in Middlesbrough, is married to Lynn with three children. 

Chris’s professional background is predominantly professional services across BDO, Arthur Andersen and PwC. Chris has been a partner at PwC since 1 July 2005 and worked with Private, Listed and International businesses, varying in size from startups to the worlds largest. Along the way Chris has supported Charities, Entrepreneurs and their teams. 

For the last 6 years Chris has been the London Regional Chair at PwC, working with PwC’s priority clients and organisations and within communities throughout London (and Middlesborough) to solve important problems.

Chris enjoys working in teams, collaborating and making a positive difference, whether that is as Chair of the London Leadership board of Business in the Community, on the CIC board of Brigade (a social restaurant business) or supporting Making the Leap and the Social Mobility Awards and Advisory Council.

Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa

Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, Chief Executive Officer, Career Ready

Tokunbo joined Career Ready, a charity founded in 2002 by leading business figures with a mission to boost social mobility by empowering young people and giving their talents a platform to flourish, in January 2020, following his role as CEO of the Foyer Federation. 

He was a Cabinet Office appointed Social Enterprise Ambassador from 2007-2010 and invited to 10 Downing Street three years in a row to advise on diversity, youth development, and social entrepreneurship.

He was highly commended at the 2021 Third Sector Awards as a ‘Rising Chief Executive’.

Jennie Colville

Jennie Colville, Head of ESG and Sustainability, Landsec

Jennie is Head of ESG and Sustainability at Landsec. In her role, Jennie leads Landsec’s sustainability strategy and its implementation across the company’s £11bn portfolio.    

A 20-year veteran of sustainability, Jennie has helped companies translate environmental, social and governance (ESG) opportunities and challenges into practical actions and business priorities. Jennie joined Landsec after three years at Capita, where she was the Responsible Business Director. Prior to that, she held numerous roles at both public and private sector companies including RSA Insurance Group, Kent County Council and Linklaters.  

In the course of her career, Jennie has supported over 500 small and medium sized businesses to improve their environmental performance, secured £2.5 million to deliver a grant scheme for businesses in the low carbon sector and implemented a global law firm’s first ever ISO 14001 Environmental Management System.  

Lucian Cook

Lucian Cook, Head of Residential Research, Savills

Lucian leads a team of 32 researchers, who cover everything from social housing to the prime markets of central London and development land to residential Investment. He has been at Savills since 1993 and a director of the research team since 2007. He is one of the most quoted commentators on the UK housing market.

Ema Saunders

Ema Saunders, Head of Talent Acquisition, Savills

Ema is head of Talent Acquisition at Savills, she previously headed the graduate and apprenticeship schemes and was on the trailblazer groups for both the Surveying and Planning apprenticeship standards.   

A strong advocate for career progression and a pioneer for the D&I programme at Savills, Ema was one of the original group of graduate recruitment professionals who founded Changing the Face of Property in 2012 and she now co-chairs the Social Mobility  group at Savills.  She is passionate about removing barriers to education, employment and progression within Real Estate and works with several charities.  One of the only non-surveyor members of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors, Ema joined their Education Committee in 2015 and enjoys helping to widen awareness of the opportunities for exciting and fulfilling careers in Real Estate. 

Registration is from 4pm for a 4.30pm prompt start. The panel discussion and Q&A will close around 5.45pm and be followed by networking drinks.

If you would like to join the event, please request a place using the button above.

We look forward to seeing you in October.