21 JUNE 2023

Blog: Building inclusion, not just diversity

This blog was published as part of Estate Gazette's annual LGBTQ+ Attitudes and Actions in Real Estate Survey. It features Joanna Banfield, HR Director and James Manning, Interm Social Impact Lead.

Grosvenor is often described as a special place to work. Our heritage, purpose and collaborative approach are major draws for talent both young and experienced. But maybe because many equate “long term” with “conservative”, they are often surprised by the innovative and progressive side of our culture.

Diversity & inclusion are fundamental principles for any high-performing workplace. Alongside the moral case, we know that inclusive and diverse teams that better represent society are happier, more successful and more adaptable.

We are committed to building diversity across gender, disability, sexuality, ethnicity, skills and experience, but also a culture that welcomes and fosters that talent when it is in our business. As a recent Real Estate Balance event we hosted said: getting the talent in is just half the story.

Culture network

Our recent staff survey is testament to the progress we are making. It found 90% of employees agreed they work for an inclusive organisation and 92% (compared with 77% in 2019) agreed that “I can be myself at work”.

But we have more to do; furthering D&I represents two of the three pillars in our people and culture strategy. Our four employee-led networks have helped shape and deliver this strategy and Pride@Grosvenor has been a particular catalyst for change and changing perceptions of Grosvenor.

Pride@Grosvenor, a global LGBTQ+ network, was our first formal culture network and is one of our most active. Since 2020 it has been supporting employees through the sharing of ideas, raising awareness and strengthening a culture of equal opportunities.

The network hosts events, provides training and resources, helps show off personal accounts of what it means to be LGBTQ+ and demonstrates how allies can support an inclusive culture. Sharing personal stories and highlighting inspiring role models has helped our people and partners better understand the LGBTQ+ community and the issues they face in the workplace and the built environment.

Influencing the sector

We are not just internally focused and have run initiatives on key sector issues and supported industry research.

Recent activity has included supporting transgender people, a marginalised and sometimes forgotten part of the LGBTQ+ community. To help raise understanding, the network ran a campaign to encourage employees to consider including pronouns in e-mail signatures and social media. Alongside this, we hosted a packed event for occupiers, suppliers and peers to help smaller businesses consider how they can be a better ally to this community.

Senior support for all culture networks as well as external support from organisations like Freehold and Stonewall has helped Pride@Grosvenor establish itself quickly. However, fundamental to its success is the fact it was employee-founded and continues to be employee-led. This strong sense of ownership means it is able to adapt to the most important issues for LGBTQ+ staff; from updating HR policies to the learning and engagement the network delivers.

We have three other employee-led groups: faith, disability and race, raising awareness, knowledge and creating safe spaces for discussion. They also act as steering groups for promoting inclusion, for example, the creation of new disability guidance and accessibility commitments for our portfolio.

Time to Speak Up

Since 2020, we’ve also had an active belonging and inclusion programme. Speak Up shines a light on expectations around harassment and bullying behaviour and includes active bystander training. Broader activity includes mentoring and reverse mentoring programmes, and creating a growth mindset culture, working with Matthew Syed’s organisation.

D&I is a key consideration for our recruitment, monitoring, policies and training. We have been working on our employer brand to attract a broader range of people. Improved data, for example, through the voluntary sharing of personal information including sexual orientation, also helps inform our strategy.

Without inclusion, we know diversity will not take root. By encouraging employee action as well as listening to and acting on feedback, we’re building an inclusive, wellbeing-focused and high-performing culture that can deliver on our ambitions and create a workplace where people can be themselves.

Group 2