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International Women's Day - #StayInYourLane (?) or #EachforEqual


“….An equal world is an enabled world. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world. Let's all be #EachforEqual….”

Source: IWD website [March 2020].

In an attempt to even consider the conversation around gender equality and equal rights for women, in a world that historically has only ever seen them as a lesser equal, we at DiverseCity Surveyors ‘DCS’ want to challenge the perception that women are [or have ever been] ‘less than’ their male counterparts.

In addition to -

  • Excelling at School / College and University compared to their male counterparts [as statistics show and prove this to be the case];

  • Being a Mother to all, i.e. the human race [given that they alone are capable of carrying and bringing everyone safely into the world];

  • Understanding the ‘true / inner feelings’ of what it means to be ‘excluded from’ or ‘not invited’ to the private party;

  • Realising, in many cases from an early age, that it is not the loudest [or most privileged] voice that you should listen to or look out for;

  • Always knowing that everyone deserves not only a seat at the table, but a warm plate too…along with all the trimmings

It is clear that women, in many cases, hold all the cards [or at least, all the aces….!].

All of us have [or may have had…RIEP for those no longer with us] Great-Grand Mothers, Grand-Mothers, Mothers, Sisters, Aunts, Daughters, Grand Daughters, Great-Grand Daughters and the legendary ‘Life-Influencers’ – who have all been capable of co-existing at any one time and, all things being equal, seamlessly capable of co-ordinating the needs of their entire families. What a wonderful skill to have and own, akin to the skillset of many of the world’s best Project Managers.

That same mission critical capability [for many women] also exists in the workplace; irrespective of where that workplace is located. The team at RICS, led by Sean Tompkins CEO, have produced an ‘international perspective’ of women in the profession and who [whilst leaders in their own right] make up just 16% of the ‘global’ surveying talent pool; please observe the RICS perspective here.

For us at DCS, founder and Chair Bola Abisogun OBE, wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of female surveyors, whilst raising awareness of the biases and informing those who need to take action to foster greater equality – the latter of which remains at the core of our modus-operandi. Admittedly, Bola could not overlook this unique opportunity to highlight and recognise the current and future contributions that many women (via their #2020 vision) will yield in this new decade of ‘digitally-infused, transformational growth and agile thinking’. To substantiate, please peruse the (Jan 2019) RICS report; Future of the Profession.

Real Estate & Construction; a UK context

The CIOB recently published a commendable article called ‘Ethnic Minorities in Construction: Pride but Prejudice’. It is an intricate overview of some of the key issues that remain for many professionals, which could also be construed as being disproportionately adverse for women. The additional challenge [or double-jeopardy as previously affirmed] is that of being a women of BAME origin; but yet, as if to defy logic, many BAME women still succeed!

And if it is proven, that based upon ‘individual potential’ and documented merit, a woman is best placed to lead the project team, then please allow her to do just that. In many cases, a woman will surpass the ‘expectations’ of her male counterparts [where there is no un/conscious attempt to undermine her individual or collective effort], if given the same opportunity ‘or level playing field’ [i.e. peer-to-peer support, time to deliver, necessary equipment and/or other critical ingredient(s) to succeed].

Whilst we commend the team at CIOB led by Caroline Gumble, Chief Executive, we also wanted to take this opportunity to promote the positive achievements and legacy being created by our own ‘home-grown’ talent pool of ‘women of influence’. Some women are doing just a little bit more than they have to, but all of them are breaking down barriers and facilitating the conversation around the ‘uncomfortable truths’. Naturally, there are far too many women to mention, but here are just some of the leading names and strategic ‘DCS’ partners, which – moving forward – will be reviewed and updated on an annual basis:

DCS Board Members / Committee Support [past and present]

Karen Ching; Deloitte

Sophia Nesro; ISG Plc

So-Sum Lee; Inner Circle Consulting

Georgina Walker; Eddisons

Judy Zhu; CBRE

Surveying / Real Estate / Planning - ‘Rising Stars’

Kimberley Hepburn; Turner & Townsend

Ayesha Ofori; Axion Property Partners

Anjali Pindoria; AVI Contracts

Priya Shah; BAME In Property

Past Presidents & Governing Council [RICS]

Diane Dumashie; RICS Governing Council

Marion Ellis; RICS Governing Council

Career / Industry Influencers [Surveying]

Sara Cameron; Norfolk County Council

Joanna Farnsworth; Galliford Try

Natasha Stone; Arcadis

Diversity Champions [Engineering / Surveying / Planning]

Kelly Canterford; CBRE / CFoP

Charlotte Morphet; LB Waltham Forest

So, let’s celebrate all women using the official hashtag, #IWD2020; yes, from those that want to make a #gamechanging impact in their chosen profession, to those that just want to ‘quietly co-exist’ without hindrance or negative bias(es) and/or prejudice(s) being placed before them. If we continue to recognise (all of) the above, we will ensure that women within and across the Surveying profession continue to enter and excel in all areas, simultaneously breaking down those ‘mental, cultural and physical’ barriers, whilst successfully challenging the viability – in many cases – of the monoculture environments that they operate within. Suffice to say, if we strike the balance and get it right, retention – of women – will also improve as we look at the impending disruption, yet to be unleashed in any meaningful way across the surveying profession.

In fact, the looming disruption, as mission-critical as it remains, is a known but unquantified risk, yet to be navigated or mitigated as we progress through this and into the next decade. And, as qualified professionals, we are duty bound to both recognise and honour the wider societal needs of the general public [i.e. the public interest] and in particular those of our fee-paying clients, as we look to achieve better project outcomes. Such measurable outcomes can only be achieved [along with incremental and continuous improvement] if delivered by more diverse teams that are suitably equipped to challenge the established norms and embrace both #diversityofthought and #emotionalintelligence, in our day-to-day project delivery. Perhaps, then and only then, will some of the ‘old guard’ step-aside and make way for those that are better equipped to do the job and indeed make a lasting ‘global’ impact, inspiring their peers to do the same.

As we begin our decade-long recognition of the #EachforEqual campaign, we would remind all ‘drivers of their own destiny’ to #StayInYourLane but always allow (and make adequate room for) others to overtake you when it is clearly safe for them to do so….. and, if it happens to be a woman overtaking you, just smile and wave her by.

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