Nathan Yates MIRPM Property Manager & Co-Founder LGBT Property Professionals
With National Coming Out Day having just gone by, it is important to remember what our fellow colleagues within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBTQ+) community have to go through on a regular basis in the workplace.
Whilst you may have heard the phrase ‘coming out’, it can be easy to assume that this only happens once in a person’s lifetime. We can all be quick to judge if someone is gay/lesbian/bi or trans however, for the individual, coming out can often be a daily experience, which can be a highly stressful and daunting situation to be in, especially when starting a new role within a new company.
During a recent trip to London and being part of the National Inclusion Week at a large property company, even I learnt a few things about how this makes people feel mentally during their working life. A good exercise, and one to give you some perspective of how hard this can be, is to imagine someone has asked ‘what did you do at the weekend?’ Try to explain out loud without using any names, places or pronouns - believe me it’s tricky! Often someone who is LGBTQ+ cannot express if they visited their same sex partner, partied in a gay venue or describe other activities associated with the LGBTQ+ community. This can lead them to avoiding conversations with colleagues and becoming isolated at work, which in turn can impact on their performance.
Stonewall – LGBT in Britain Work Report states that one in seven LGBT people (14 per cent) say they don’t feel able to be themselves at work. This increase to one in five for LGBT disabled people (21 per cent), LGBT young people aged 18 to 24 (21 per cent) and Trans people (19 per cent) who don’t feel they can be themselves at work.
More than a third of LGB people (35 per cent) have hidden or disguised that they are LGB at work in the last year because they were afraid of discrimination. This raises to half of trans people (51 per cent). It’s also higher among younger workers aged 18 to 24 (58 per cent), LGBT disabled people (43 per cent), and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) LGBT people (42 per cent).
Whilst in general attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people have improved over the years, the construction/property industry is still some way behind other professions and homophobia/biphobia/transphobia is still very much an issue on construction sites. A 2017 Construction News LGBT+ survey found that 59% of respondents had heard the word ‘gay’ used as an insult in the workplace, 54% did not feel comfortable about being open about their sexuality/gender identity on site and almost a third felt that being LGBT+ and working in the industry had a negative impact on their mental health.
Yet the industry is grappling with an ageing and shrinking workforce and now, more than ever, we need to be welcoming and inclusive; making property a career choice regardless of a person’s sexual orientation/gender identity.
We all have a role to play to try to make the industry more inclusive to LGBTQ+ people – whether it is calling out inappropriate language or behaviour, creating staff networks to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ colleagues to be themselves, or being a visible ally to show colleagues that they can be themselves around you. It is up to us, collectively, to make a difference.
Myself and fellow property colleague Julie Musesoglu have decided to try to tackle issues within the property industry by starting a North West LGBT property networking event LGBT Property Professionals. Our main aim will not only be to focus on networking and providing a safe space for LGBTQ+ people across all sectors of the property industry, but to also share ideas and advise on inclusivity within the industry by hosting insightful speakers. Our event will be open to anyone within the property sector, this will enable us to make the most from people experience’s and bring the separate groups together to make the most of networking.
LGBT Property Professionals will be holding its first event on 8th November at Generation Gallery, New York Street, Manchester M1 4BD at 6pm. Book your space now as numbers are limited!
If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch via Twitter