Social Mobility - Tipping the Balance

Seminar / 13 May 2021
Five people on a Zoom call

Promoting social mobility within the real estate industry was the theme of Savills and Real Estate Balance’s webinar on 13 May.

Chaired by Liz Peace, viewers heard from Andrew Gulliford (COO at SEGRO), Richard Rees (Savills MD), Tokunbo Ajasa-Olowa (Career Ready CEO) and Sophie Stuart (Career Ready Alumni).

The event opened with Liz Peace posing the question, how do we open up the property industry and the many different roles within it to those from varied social backgrounds who perhaps had never considered the industry as accessible. Liz highlighted that those from an affluent background are 80 per cent more likely to be in a professional job than their working class peers.

Andrew Gulliford, COO at SEGRO spoke of green shoots of progress as well as reflecting on how social diversity isn’t visible so is harder to measure. He also commented that it was an issue the real estate industry needed to work together to address.

Richard Rees told his own career story and how he fell into property. He spoke of the various initiatives Savills is involved with including apprenticeships, Rethink Food and Career Ready and that it’s with the “widest range of people” that we get the “widest range of ideas.”

Tokunbo Ajasa-Olowa, CEO of Career Ready discussed the value of a diverse work place and how Generation Z are drawn to companies with clear values. Sophie Stuart, an alumni of the Career Ready programme talked about how much she learnt during her internship after being approached by the charity while doing her A-Levels. She had previously not considered a career in real estate and is now working fulltime at the property company she interned at.

Key themes of the panel discussion included how the industry can affect real change by being plugged into local communities, giving people the confidence to celebrate rather than just accept difference within the workplace and how remote working in the pandemic has given opportunities to offer experience to those who may be daunted by the thought of a corporate environment. The panel concluded that the real estate industry is waking up to social mobility as an issue and that while there are lots of great initiatives underway there is still a way to go.

Savills has announced a partnership with Career Ready, a national charity who have created a network of employers and educators who all believe that every young person, regardless of background, deserves the opportunity to kick-start a rewarding future. Following the webinar the charity fed back their thanks at being part of such a “fantastic event” and that they hoped it would encourage other “businesses in attendance” to “follow Savills in working with us to open up opportunities for those that need it most and in turn benefit from a fantastic diversity of talent into the sector.”

You can view the webinar in full here:

Social Mobility - Tipping the Balance