The run upto the 9th October 2019, was tense and somewhat filled with trepidation as the reality of almost three years work came to fruition. The very early conversations centred around the need to ‘disrupt’ the prevalent and counter-productive silo’d thinking which was more a question of when than if, and by whom. And, as an industry, if we were ever going to successfully attempt to quantify and address the chronic under-employment and service [or solve] the lauded ‘skills shortage’ we really needed to promote a new concept of ‘pragmatic collaboration’ overlaid with Social Value. It had to happen, and the question soon became, “who would have the patience and charisma to unpick and unpack this well entrenched industry norm……?”
As one of the ‘early day founders’ we engaged in discussions that toyed with the idea that we could (and would) all work seamlessly together – as individual organisations – but you somehow knew that even with the best intentions, such a noble idea was flawed from the outset, not least because of the ‘selfish’ human instinct, premised upon ‘self-preservation’. As Founder and Chairman of DiverseCity Surveyors, a once upon a time ‘sounds like a great idea’ concept holder, Bola Abisogun OBE, knew exactly what was required to achieve any form of success, moreso, success that would ultimately lead to sustainable growth for the benefit of the service user(s).
Step forward Rebecca Lovelace. Having attended the launch event of DiverseCity Surveyors, the first RICS BAME Network (convened during Black History Month, back in October 2017), held at RICS HQ, care of the kind and unfailing support from RICS SMT, led by Sean Tompkins, CEO, it was totally befitting and reciprocal that we at DiverseCity Surveyors lend our unfailing support to Building People in their hour of need……………It was particularly challenging, given that ‘their hour’ lasted some three plus years………..!! But hey, that the launch of Building People occurred, during Black History Month in 2019, is no coincidence either, as is the support from RICS which remains ever present, as seen here.
Nathan Garnett, and his commendable team at UK Construction Week have held the UK’s largest built environment exhibition of talent and opportunity, a progressive industry facing event held at the NEC, Birmingham for a number of years. Hosted during Black History Month, it has always been an opportunity for #BAME professionals to explore the conversation around diversity & inclusion, with specific reference to the lack of ethnicity across the sector. Called the '5 Big Questions on Diversity', you can observe the current RICS perspective here. Positively, we at DCS [through our Board members, Ms Faith Locken MRICS and Mr Alexander Smith MRICS; seen here] have decided to seize this as an opportunity to promote the breadth of opportunity to those from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds, who may otherwise not consider this wonderful industry as a viable career option. We commend Nathan and his team for their ongoing effort and look forward to supporting them at UKCW2020………with Building People.......!!
UCEM (University College of Estate Management) Principal, Mr Ashley Wheaton administered the introductions to a packed ‘standing room only’ audience focussing on the esteemed panel including the industry heavyweights listed below.
So back to the Building People launch, which [naturally] the day before had it’s normal pre-prep knee jerk calamity…..but Rebecca maintained composure and carried on via SoS text messages with DCS via Bola. However, as is always the case, Nathan and his team ‘ironed out the kinks’ and the day itself was allowed to flow, almost seamlessly and proved to be a resounding success for all involved, including the Chartered Surveyors Training Trust ‘CSTT’. It was good to see CSTT Chairman and fellow Chartered Surveyor, William Hill in attendance for the big day.
Following the informed and engaging panel discussion, a number of workshops commenced which were led by:
The Building People platform, is first and foremost about PEOPLE, all people, the younger, the more mature and EVERYONE in between. At DCS, our only condition if there is one, is that we must never allow Building People to loose sight of this simple, but mission critical, criteria, as to do that would mean that the Building People ‘core value’ would be compromised. The unique offer provided by Building People, a notable industry ‘disruptor’ is that as a totally ‘collaborative platform’ – equality, diversity & inclusion remains at the core of what they do. You can review their website here.
As an example of how successful engagement with the Building People platform can be, Mr Riley Blackstock, himself a 2nd year QS undergraduate at Nottingham Trent University [who had struggled to secure an Apprenticeship] attended the event upon invitation from DCS Chairman, Bola Abisogun OBE and is now enroute to capitalising on the opportunities presented to him on the day. We look forward to offering Riley the requisite support as he aspires to become a fully qualified Chartered Quantity Surveyor within the next decade; i.e. #QS2030
We engaged with several attendees on the Building People stand, including the #UKCW2019 Role Model of the Year, Ms Anjali Pindoria, of Avi Contracts. Well done Anjali, we look forward to working with you on behalf of CIOB Novus.
So, next steps for Building People, is an urgent call for industry participation, specifically, 20 organisations [aspiring to be the next CSTT] i.e. linking the Building People platform to your organisations website, sharing your vacancies, other resource and details of any opportunities; in so doing, helping to grow the Building People ecosystem beyond a focus on anyone profession and/or target audience. Why not become a ‘collaborative’ leader, stand up, commit and join in the Building People attempt to expand the platform as far and as wide as possible..... we are #StrongerTogether
Having successfully concluded his role and contribution at the Building People event at the NEC, Bola Abisogun OBE, made a dash into Birmingham City Centre to contribute via livestream presentation at the Landscape Institute ‘LI’ CPD Day, held at The Studio, adjacent New Street Station.
In addition to the evening launch of the LI – ‘Rainbow Places Network’ (the official LGBTQ+ network for LI members), the theme of the entire CPD programme was ‘the Human Element’; which was a call to action for Landscape Practitioners [designers and contractors] to ‘Create Equal Opportunity’. Following an introduction by President-Elect, Jane Findlay CMLI, a joint presentation was delivered with industry accredited Marketing Consultant, Ms Diana Chrouch of Chrouch Consulting whose delivery commenced with a presentation that articulated the need to look beyond ‘Unconsciouis Bias’ Training when reviewing [and assessing] organisational competency. The audience responded well in seeking to engage with a better appreciation of the ‘available’ talent pool in pursuit of greater supplier diversity and earlier engagement with and from those of ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds.
Bola personalised his discussion using his ‘authentic delivery’ whilst seeking to demonstrate that a lack of ethnicity across a key profession, was grossly unacceptable. In fact, for a profession that is solely responsible for designing and creating much of the national public realm across the wider built environment (landscape), a lack of diversity cannot be allowed to become an excuse. It is up to competent landscape practitioners themselves to 'square the circle' as to why the landscape profession has not fully embraced the core demands of ensuring that the built environment [as designed and built] remains both accessible and culturally competent for all users/people, regardless of their physical capability, social mobility and/or role in society.
Roll on UKCW2020 and here’s to the onward and upward progression of the Building People platform. At DCS, we are rooting for you Rebecca, #ItsTime for all of us, to start [and never stop] Building People.