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DiverseCity Surveyors align itself to ‘impact strategy’ with global commitments from RICS

During December 2016, a frank but honest conversation took place between Lucile Kamar, a key and active member of the RICS ED&I Team and DCS Founder and Chair Bola Abisogun OBE. The uncomfortable truths that emerged following that initial conversation between Matthew Howell and Lucile Kamar, culminated in the internal RICS research (issued back in March 2016) amidst a further commitment to work with DCS Founder and Chair Bola Abisogun OBE. The success of the published research and the hard data captured at that time, precipitated the ‘official’ launch of Diversity Surveyors, led by Mark Walley, during Black History Month in 2017; the keynote was delivered by Egbert LJ Perry who flew in from Atlanta Georgia. Hosted at RICS HQ in Parliament Square, much has happened since the historic 'official' launch of DCS almost three years ago.

The following month [during November 2017] a further soft launch in Atlanta, Georgia USA, took place with support from the RICS South-East Chapter Bruce Kellogg (Chapter Chair) in recognition and full support of RICS Americas MD, Neil Shah. Through that connection, Neil ensured that further support from Allen Williams was on hand, who also flew into Atlanta to co-present with Bruce, Bola and a handful of other local Senior Industry representatives and Real Estate professionals. The launch event [which included Bola delivering a CPD session on the impact of digitisation (BIM) towards the global Surveying profession] was also supported by Professor & Chair, Daniel Castro-Lacouture, of Georgia Tech University – who took the opportunity to present the findings of his own ‘deep dive’ research into diversity and inclusion across the US real estate and construction sector with a specific focus on the State of Georgia [the home of Civil Rights].

Along with many others, all of the allies listed above, have supported the longstanding effort of DiverseCity Surveyors to establish solid foundations on which to develop and build a narrative around ‘cultural difference’ citing the need for greater equity and inclusion in the Surveying profession. We thank the aforementioned individuals, and ‘other quiet’ gamechangers who have and continue to support the unrelenting, strategic contribution by DCS since our very beginning in 2006.

Notwithstanding, the continued effort of the RICS to readily address the current and stark inequalities that continue to co-exist, across the Surveying profession, were given greater emphasis and oxygenation following the devastating loss of life in the form of George Perry Floyd Jr, which in itself followed an earlier meeting this year between RICS Global CEO, Sean Tompkins, RICS UK & Ireland MD, Matthew Howell, Ayesha Ofori of Black Property Network and Bola Abisogun OBE.

The introductory meeting, in February 2020, was something of a joint celebratory event to acknowledge the recent and individual 2019 achievements of both Ayesha and Bola, which quickly evolved into a “what else can we do to improve upon the attainment gap for BAME Surveyors.....?”. To their credit, the unwavering commitment from Sean and Matt, to do more to effect cultural change was born, at this juncture, based solely upon the unique #livedexperience of black Surveyors.

Two months ago, Bola was asked by RICS to share his ‘personal’ opinion on the fragile and hugely emotive environ, at that time, regarding the death of George Floyd in the USA. This preceded a statement by RICS Global CEO, Sean Tompkins, which sought to reflect a similar acknowledgement. The overwhelming sentiment conveyed through the lens of vocal affirmations and social unrest, which for many translated into recognition of and support towards the #BlackLivesMatter movement, further capitalised on the vast, multi-generational injustices that have continued to plague the daily existence of minority groups, particularly in the UK and North America. In an attempt to authenticate their genuine desire to better understand the ‘granular detail’ of the #livedexperience of black Surveyors, the RICS – again, instigated by Sean and Matt – offered UK based, DCS Members a genuine opportunity to hold a series of virtual roundtables, along with the critical support from Ayesha and Millie [both of Black Property Network]. Our first ‘virtual’ event was held on 02/07/20 and was an exhaustive verbal representation of some common denominators and other key issues articulated by the participants. It was an overwhelming and interesting first step and successfully brought to the fore, the extent to which black Surveyors have, in the past, and continue to address daily challenges over and above those likely to be expected by any Chartered Surveyor(s), in pursuit of achieving their own “individual (career) potential”.

Authored by RICS Executive Director, Richard Collins, noting that data capture will remain critical to any sustainable success, you can observe the full statement, proffered by RICS here.

From hereon in, it is clear to us at DCS, that the RICS have willingly stepped up to the plate in an attempt become a more inclusive, diverse and representative professional body with a truly global mandate that (at least for the next generation), will seek to address a couple of key objectives;

  • Improve its own domestic ‘cultural competency’ through better representation towards and understanding of the critical needs of minority / BAME groups; and

  • Sustain the growth of its global membership by becoming better equipped to service the myriad [cultural and professional] needs of both new and existing members, across its international and emerging market footprint

Exciting times ahead, please be patient as we attempt to 'move the dial'.

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