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How Inclusivity Benefits our Business

By Chris Grigg

17 Jul 2017

The last couple of weeks have been a great opportunity to think on how diversity and inclusion have moved up the Agenda at British Land and in our industry over the last few years. In short, we’ve come a long way from a low base. We again sponsored the Albert Kennedy Trust bus at this year’s Pride in London parade. I also spoke at the industry’s first LGBT conference sponsored by BPP Paribas Real Estate and Jones Laing Lasalle.

For me, the case for diversity at British Land is a very practical, business oriented one. Amongst other things, we are likely to make better decisions if we have a more diverse workforce, not least because we will be more similar to our customers and their customers. It’s also worth remembering that Regulators are becoming far more focussed on the whole topic.

Promoting open environments where employees can be themselves also encourages happier, stronger and more productive teams. So much so that the majority of initiatives in this space at British Land have been generated bottom up; from Pride (our LGBT group) and Women’s Committee to mentoring programmes and the recent introduction of equal pay for employees choosing to take shared parental leave. Our committees are ‘engines of collaboration’ within the business. “Bring your whole self to work” resonates well beyond the LGBT community.

However, creating momentum is important too. At British Land we recently asked staff to complete a diversity survey. Over 90% were happy to complete the survey – a very high number for such surveys. I’m convinced we wouldn’t have got to that sort of proposition even a few years ago. Momentum is key and so is the commitment of our people. Over 130 are members of our Pride group, with its Committee Chaired by Paul Macey (Property Finance Director) who is an effective leader of this group.

Comments from Ruth Hunt, CEO of Stonewall, really resonated with me; if we think just employing a more diverse group of people is the answer, we have missed the point. It’s not who we are, it’s how we are that counts. Getting people to think differently and inclusively is how we will allow different ideas to flourish and innovate more successfully. That way, diversity becomes an outcome, not a target.

One thing we are working on here at British Land is focussing more on our customers. To be really successful, we need to understand them more and more. We are getting better, not least because we are more inclusive as a business. However, we acknowledge we have lots more to do. So it is with diversity and inclusion!

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