Diversity in the workforce is something many businesses are being urged to strive for, with bodies such as the CIPD describing the promotion and supporting of diversity as good people management.
The CIPD, along with various other bodies, also says that a diversity strategy can “add value to an organisation, contributing to employee well-being and engagement”.
One of its specialist reports on the topic of equal opportunity highlights the structural barriers to progression for women within organisations. It also points to a 2017 review of BAME employee challenges in the workplace, commissioned by Baroness McGregor-Smith, which stated: “There is discrimination and bias at every stage of an individual’s career and even before it begins. From networks to recruitment and then in the workplace, it is there.”[ii]
Diversity and Equal Opportunity in our Property Franchise Network
Within our Aspray franchise network, we firmly believe this not to be the case – something that seemingly sets us apart from other organisations. We feel our network to be truly diverse, boasting franchisees coming from black or black British and Asian or Asian British communities, other ethnic groups, such as Middle Eastern, older demographics, a spectrum of different religions and from both genders, with a vibrant cohort of women running their own Aspray franchise businesses and being far more represented than is the case in either the construction industry or the specialist property sector.
The network has a woman director, Andrea Loasby, acting as a role model for other women and was this year nominated for three Women in Insurance Awards 2020. Women also occupy other key roles within the organisation, heading up our franchise support, claims and introducer partnership divisions. It’s a far cry from the Property Week and Deverell Smith Open Plan ‘Increasing Diversity in Property’ survey, which found 28% of property professionals felt themselves discriminated against because of their gender, whilst 33% felt this on the basis of their age.
Careers Opportunities for Ambitious Women
Our women franchisees relish working in a property and construction sector traditionally associated with being a male domain and are often very much glass ceiling breakers, having had successful corporate or professional careers before deciding to start their own loss assessing and property claims management business. For some, this has involved a complete change of sector, with a transfer of skills earned in project management and leadership. For others, it has meant taking skills earned within the property sector and using them to build their own career prospects, to their own working arrangements and often around family.
Celebrating Diversity in Our Professional Property Sector Franchise
One of the annual joys for us, as a franchise network, is bringing together all of these franchisees from such diverse backgrounds at our annual National Conference. When we see the network in the room, we appreciate just how diverse a cohort of franchisees we have and it is a thrill to celebrate the differences, as well as the similarities and the on-the-job experiences of all.
This year, we shall not be able to run a national conference, due to coronavirus, but we know that we will have an even more diverse room of people whenever we next do. The pandemic has changed people’s views of work and urban environments, made commuting less palatable than ever and made people realise that life is too short to be unhappy at work. What could make anyone unhappier than not having the same respect and opportunity as others? Why should anyone stay in such a role, when there are options to do something different, build their own business with a franchisor who celebrates diversity and join a network already boasting people from their background, age or gender group?
We feel it is very much ‘watch this space’ in terms of network growth over the coming year.
What to find out more? Book a place on an upcoming Discovery Webinar here.