From education to employment

A fairer UK begins with equitable access to opportunities

The reason I went into the real estate industry is because I believe passionately in the sector’s
ability to serve as a force for good. We don’t just build buildings, we create the places that people
across the country rely on to live, work, shop, and socialise. And it’s a sector that sits at the heart
of the British economy, with direct interaction with other key industries – retail, leisure, food and
beverage, and of course the hundreds of thousands of businesses that base themselves in offices
and retail destinations across the UK.

This position gives us an unrivalled opportunity to make a difference. Whether that’s providing
better employment opportunities for communities where we work, increasing social mobility across
our industry, improving the environmental performance of buildings and places or creating new and
better investment opportunities by thinking differently about what communities really need from
the places we create.

Real estate is the fourth largest employer in the UK. We have the potential to offer so many people
fulfilling career opportunities. Our challenge is that not enough people know about them. We
intend to change that.

Though just 6.5% of the national population receive an independent or selective school education,
almost half of the real estate sector is made up of those who have. This means our industry is
currently less representative of people’s diverse backgrounds than the nationwide communities
we’re creating places for.

We understand very clearly that this situation needs to change, for two important reasons. Firstly,
if our sector is to be successful into the future, we must invest in and harness the creativity,
originality, and initiative of the entire next generation of young people as they grow their careers.

Secondly, we want the opportunities within our sector to be open to everyone because we believe
we can do better, and we can do more if our industry truly represents the communities we serve.
And that starts with being honest about where we are today.

Like others, at Landsec we have work to do to fully understand the composition of our own organisation and ensure it’s as representative as we need it to be. This is why we’re starting to measure the socio-economic diversity of our workforce under our new diversity and inclusion strategy, to track progress against Landsec Future and ensure our own business becomes more equitable and inclusive.

But this on its own isn’t enough – to really make a difference and enhance socio-economic representation across real estate, we have to commit to continually measuring this so that we can see what progress we’re making and where action is needed. We hope that this supports the broader industry with its
diversity goals as well as helping us at Landsec to achieve our own ambitions.

Breaking down barriers

Our industry needs to attract a more diverse representation of people from all walks of life; but we
know there are two significant barriers that make that difficult. The first is that not enough people understand what careers are available within the real estate industry. There are so many roles that suit a wide range of skillsets – from the more traditional roles like architects and urban planners, to relationship managers and landscape designers.

It’s important that we as employers raise awareness of everything we can offer young talent and
proactively engage with students and young people as they’re making critical decisions about their
careers. That’s one of the reasons why we’re excited to have welcomed our first cohort of interns
last month, offering practical on-the-job learning and exposure to students with no prior work

The second is money. Put simply, the cost of qualifications needed to join the industry can be a
significant financial barrier. We can’t change this, but we can be more intentional in how we
support people through this, which is why we’ve committed to supporting at least five students
with three-year bursaries of up to £30,000 to undertake industry-relevant courses.

Partnerships that empower

The property industry’s national reach means we can create change at scale and speed, through
partnerships with education and employability organisations that are already leading in their
support for young people across the UK.

Often, there has been a focus in the industry on spotlight partnerships – short projects that deliver
quick action for a select number of people at a time.

By switching focus to long-term community partnerships, together we can deliver lasting value
rooted in an understanding of communities’ specific needs, guided by those who know them, and
understand their educational needs, the best.

By no means do we have all the answers. But I’m confident that we have the appetite and
commitment to bring about the change that will excite people about the opportunities in real
estate – the same opportunities that enticed me into the sector. By putting a greater emphasis on
educational partnerships and being intentional about removing barriers where we recognise them,
we can build a more equitable real estate industry that anyone can be a part of.

By Jennine Coleville, Head of ESG and Sustainability, Landsec

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