The boss of one of Britain’s biggest property companies, British Land, on Wednesday said he wanted his industry to be more open to diversity as London celebrates Pride week.
British Land has been one of the bigger corporate supporters of Pride in recent days, rolling out high-profile celebrations at its main premises in London such as Paddington Central.
Property companies are low on equality charity Stonewall’s list of most LGBT-friendly employers, and the industry’s already poor image for diversity was traduced after the notorious Presidents Club dinner, where wealthy guests leered at young hostesses.
Chris Grigg said it wasn’t for him to advise other companies what to do but added: “We have to look forward and make sure we as an industry are learning from our mistakes.”
Grigg was speaking after Land Securities boss Rob Noel this week said real estate “has not even begun” on the journey to become a diverse industry.
Saying his vicar brother Simon is gay, Grigg added: “Perhaps if you’ve grown up with that it makes you think slightly differently about the world.”
He added: “As well as just being the right thing to do, diversity gets you better decision making in organisations and less groupthink.”
He said British Land had instituted an LGBT network arranging events for staff three years ago under the company’s property finance director Paul Macey, who describes in detail on the company’s website his experiences coming out at work.
Like several big companies, British Land will have a big presence at Saturday’s Pride Parade through central London. “We feel it’s important to be visibly supporting it,” he said.
Property is noticeably less gay-friendly than other industries such as financial services and law, according to the annual report from Stonewall, whose top 100 employers list featured only six firms from the sector, none of which were the majors. Top 10 employers included Lloyds, Citi and Berwin Leighton Paisner.
Separately, telecoms giant Vodafone set out plans to “help create a culture where employees can be open about their sexual orientation and gender identity”. These include having more inclusive messaging on Vodafone job adverts; the launch of a “global ‘buddying’ programme for LGBT+ graduates” and inclusivity training for managers.
Vodafone group chief executive Vittorio Colao said: “I am saddened that so many young LGBT+ people feel they still have to hide their status in the workplace.”
Source: Evening Standard