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DCS celebrate BHM with the 'quiet' and the fallen heroes amongst us......

2020 is and remains the year that has challenged so many of us and yet, has produced so many ‘positive firsts’ and ‘twists of fate’, some less cringeworthy than others, but ALL requiring the attention that they individually deserve. Business as usual [or, as we knew it], has unquestionably changed forever. There is no going back to a pre-COVID normal, not even for those of use that truly want to.

Credit: Getty Images

Starting with another [annual] reflection on Remembrance Sunday, which, in advance of Armistice Day on 11/11] brings to the fore, the significance of the loss of life caused, principally, to the ever-disastrous necessity, called war. That the world continues to assume this path to attempt to resolve both domestic, global disputes and other economic issues, has and will continue to inflict and cause painful memories for millions of families that have lost loved ones 'in the line of duty'.

Vast number of individuals were recruited from across the British Empire and listed to support the various war efforts, with particular reference to the first World War. Notwithstanding, it was however, at the specific request of King George V, that a two minute silence – from 11am – began in Britain, commencing on 11 November 1919, exactly a year after World War One had 'officially' been brought to an end. He made the request to affirm and uphold that “the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead”.

That many of these lost souls were from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic [i.e. BAME] population is one reason why, at least for the former group of soldiers, the wearing of the Black poppy came into existence. Several variations exist and this year, like never before, there has been a proliferation of digital poppies amidst the almost complete silence occupied at the London Cenotaph due to current social distancing rules and an inability, by the general public, to attend the annual event in person.

A precis and reflection of Black History Month 2020

Commencing on the 1st October and ending on 31st October 2020, the month long, annual event was designed to bring critical observation and understanding to the Black #livedexperience in the UK. For many it is a unique opportunity to look forward and celebrate ‘the here and now’ as well as dwell on the future possibilities. It is also rather conveniently a sensitive time for many given that their memories of the past, continue to bring traumatic experiences, that with the passage of time, have only become more painful and intense. Some things [and memories], simply cannot be forgotten.

You can also observe the various statements / perspectives, penned by the current political UK leaders…

PM Boris Johnson _ Conservative

Ed Davey _ Liberal Democrats

The team at DiverseCity Surveyors 'DCS' undertoook and collaborated with a series of BHM Events, overseen by an inaugural effort and daily commitment to shine a light on the 'quiet' #gamechangers across the global Surveying profession, duly acknowledged by the Senior Management and PR Teams at RICS

For many in the Black and wider built environment, the ease of reference to those individuals that are doing and/or achieving amazing things in their own 'quiet' way, is [and has been] consistently overlooked by the global Surveying profession. This year, DCS began with an idea, conceived by Founder & Chairman, Bola Abisogun OBE FRICS, which sought to shining a leading light, much closer to home.

So many Surveyors, young, middle-management and senior level C-Suites individuals, are and have been doing some amazing things. In a post-George Floyd era, Bola felt it was even more important to commend and highlight some of the many individuals across the globe. The DCS Heroes BHM2020 ‘Quiet Gamechangers’ featured a targeted campaign and hosted a number of Surveyors, all of whom have made [or have intention to make] a tangible contribution to the lives of others and the wider and evolving workflow(s) of DCS. Listed below, the various professionals profiled – spanning across four, weekly themes – can be seen across our social media footprint, including our new DiverseCity Surveyors page on LinkedIn

Black Females in Surveying

Dr Diane Dumashie FRICS

Veleta Brown MRICS

Deidre Toussaint MRICS

Ally Reid MRICS

Michaela Bygrave MRICS

Melissa Madjitey MRICS

Sheila Kaijuka MRICS

Black Men in Surveying

Bernard Osei MRICS

Learie Gonsalves MRICS

Uche Obi FRICS

Nii Klotey Quaye MRICS

Rising Stars in Surveying

Ayodele Faleye MNIQS

Annette Oke MRICS

Sunny-Thomas Obasuyi AssocRICS

Tatenda Metzger MRICS

Young Talent Surveying in Surveying

Jonah Speaks

Ola Alade

Joshua Jackson

Shaynesia Byfield

Special Mentions [Industry Trailblazers]:

Christopher Browne MRICS

Anthony Oloyede FRICS

The success of this 'worthwhile experiment', has resonated greatly with the younger [and growing international] cohort and confirmed not only that there is a genuine appetite for this level of 'grass-roots' intelligence, but also, that at DCS, we can truly begin to recognise and acknowledge the presence and commitment of our members, across the globe. We look forward to 2021 and will be monitoring the global footprint of the Surveying profession in search of next years cohort. On behalf of the built environment profession and the Black Surveying contingent, active within it, please do keep up the amazing work.

We are also sending and HUGE thank you to Sean Tompkins, RICS CEO and his Executive Team - for their collective and unfailing support and focus during these exponentially tying times]. We appreciate your inclusive institutional support, even in the presence of some challenging headwinds.


Elsewhere, there was a number of critical UK engagements and other key events, delivered in partnership with other industry leaders across the real estate sector, construction industry and wider built environment professions.

Credit: Estates Gazette

We kicked off the month with a sensitive and well-balanced conversation, via an EG PodCast, with the legendary Samantha McClary and Lucy Alderson, Editor and Journalist respectively at industry behemoth, Estates Gazette / EGi. The spontaneous conversation along with Ghislaine Halpenny [BPF] and Chris Ireland [JLL] focussed on the results of the first ever Race Diversity Survey conducted by this leading industry publication which, historically, since its formation in 1858, has shied away from ‘non-core' perhaps even controversial subjects, including race. However, Samantha has always been one to challenge and successfully push the boundaries. Called 'Enough is enough: property’s problem with institutional racism' you can listen to the open and frank conversation here.

Another quarterly meeting of the pan-London Advisory Group took place with the sole focus of considering the contents of a public policy statement on the current employment rates for Young Black Men ‘YBM’ across London. This key statement will also be sent to the Race and Advisory Group, Minister for Employment and other relevant public sector officials and ministerial departments.

In addition to the above, the Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London also graced a pan-London and quite possibly, global audience with his presence during the long awaited launch of the Inclusive Employers Toolkit. Arising from the original project scope of the Moving On Up 'MoU' Advisory Group, during Phase 1, and a concerted joint effort between MoU partners and the GLA led WIN Team, the IE Toolkit is designed to support Employers fro the Construction Sector to at least begin to engage with the conversation and processes designed to ensure that young black men are afforded genuine career opportunities to participate across the sector.

Credit: Mayor of London

"I call it the 'ground-zero' for Employers

(particularly those in the Construction and Technology sectors)

that struggle with inclusive-recruitment practices,

and particularly their inability to employ YBM in and across London"

.... Bola Abisogun OBE

You can observe the full contents of the Press Statement issued by Trust for London on 28.10.20; here

Credit: Rebecca Lovelace & Building People

A 'proof of concept platform' was successfully launched by Founder and Chief Dot-Joiner, Rebecca Lovelace at the high profile 'virtual' UK Construction Week 'UKCW' event held during Black History Month too. With active involvement and participation from almost a 1,000 organisations, a panel of industry Advisors / and all manner of supporters to Building People; including wider participation and influence from Mark Farmer, UK Government Champion for Modern Methods of Construction; the event was a resounding success, and used the hashtag #UKCWVirtual.

Themed, "How do we change the culture of the Built Environment?" a lively panel discussion took place on 06.10.20 along with a number of industry leaders, including those below. Cultural behaviours and the need to push for more sustainable, systemic change, formed the nucleus of the conversation. You can listen the conversation here

The event also doubled as a launch of the Building People crowd funder, which sought to raise funds for future development of a 'non-threatening' increasingly collaborative eco-system, where other organisations with similar values and aspirations can [and should] work smarter together, with a global focus / outreach.

The following day on 07.10.20, the #DreamTeam comprising a number of DCS members, took over the #UKCWVirtual platform and had an informed and lively discussion about their own personal #livedexperiences as Chartered Surveyors from the Black community.

Themed, "Enough talk, time for practical action_ BAME retention in the built environment - UK Construction Week 2020" a lively panel discussion took place with a number of Surveying practitioners, all of whom brought a unique contribution to the conversation. You can listen [here] to the conversation that unfolded amongst the Surveyors seen above.

As an elected Member to the 'new' Membership Diversity & Inclusion [MD&I] Committee, an interesting conversation between DCS Founder and Chair Bola Abisogun OBE, fellow Liveryman Antonia Belcher MRICS and Past President of RICS - Amanda Clack FRICS PPRICS; was conducted, whilst also considering the myriad ways in which the WCCS could further engage with a much wider audience. The next generation of Surveyors featured greatly in the conversation as did the topic of a changing professional service / evolving skillsets / and data-led competencies.

Past Master, John Woodman, had set high [though perfectly reasonable] aspirations for the Surveyors Livery to undertake and commit to a huge schools engagement programme, albeit this had originally been established in a pre-COVID world. The MD&I Committee will continue to help shape the future direction of travel, possible working with other industry partners and grass-root, charitable organisations, including AccessUK.

The NLA team, led by Benjamin O'Connor and Grace Simmonds, have recently published the Diverse Leaders Pledge and on the back of that success, they were determined to revisit the conversation around barriers to success.

A webinar discussion titled: Breaking Down Bias was convened by NLA to

"hear from industry leaders who have broken down the barriers of bias and share their experience

and achievements to help create a more inclusive industry." 

Invited to participate and share his own perspective, Founder and Chair, Bola Abisogun OBE demonstrated that bias can be a barrier, both in the workplace and along an entire career trajectory. Such an inevitability, not only prevents people from effectively working together as successful project teams, but can also directly impact the diversity of the hiring process and associated retention rates. It is no secret that the built environment industry has and continued to chronically suffer from a lack of diversity and inclusion, which in turn has and continues to have an overwhelmingly detrimental impact on businesses themselves. 

Diversity is clearly an asset to any organisation, and with a diverse workforce a business can [and should] expect diverse and dynamic solutions and outputs, appealing to broader audiences and ultimately becoming a more culturally competent, empathetic, successful and profitable business.

In this webinar the audience got to hear first hand, from the industry leaders [listed below], who have broken down the barriers of bias and share their experience and achievements to help create a more inclusive industry. 

A McKinsey & Company global study from 2015 found that ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians and gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to do the same

There is clearly much to be done to fully determine the scale and breadth of bias across the built environment professions. Though one thing for sure, is that if the industry / professions, continue to fail in their wide-scale embrace and acceptance of the 'dark reality towards difference / authenticity', it is not only the industry that will undoubtedly suffer, regrettably, so will plenty of Clients.

Onto commercial opportunities for experienced built environment professionals, and in recognition of his previous contribution to the recent procurement process administered by LB Southwark, subsequently challenged by members from the BAME community, our Chair and Founder, Bola Abisogun OBE was invited to speak as part of a panel discussion hosted by LHC. The virtual equivalent of the LHC Procurement Conference was an attempt to pick and unpack the disastrous decision that led to and revealed a London borough procuring a multi-year framework that included 110 firms, no one being from the BAME community.

Although not a situation, unique to LB Southwark, the LHC [via Shona Snow and Jennifer Castle] were desirous of a tangible opportunity to 'discuss and redress' the clear and demonstrable failings of the procurement process, deployed at that time.

Moderated by the wonderful Lisa Taylor of Coherent Cities; the discussion was loaded with nuggets of information and bite-sized pointers to allow the public sector to procure both Works and Services in a more inclusive and representative way......... #RepresentationMatters.

Roll on #BHM2021............. stay safe and stay true to yourselves.


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