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Making the property industry more diverse, inclusive, cleaner and greener

This guest blog from Lucinda Mitchell, Project Director at First Base – a year one sponsor of the programme – shares insights into initiatives helping to make the property industry better for our communities and better for the planet.

It’s no secret that the property industry lags behind other sectors in promoting diversity within its workforce and in particular at senior level.

Traditionally, real estate has been a white, male-dominated industry, especially in key management positions. Although various efforts have been made to develop a more inclusive environment, there is still a gap that needs filling. 

So, while Bristol is one of the UK’s most diverse cities, diversity across the city’s property industry still has a long way to go to reflect the population.

That’s why we at First Base, and our partners ethical investor FORE Partnership and retirement living operator Amicala, have all signed up to support the pioneering Bristol Property Inclusion Charter, which aims to ensure that opportunities in the industry are available to all, regardless of their background.

Together, we three partners are bringing forward a new net-zero carbon extra care community at the former St Christopher’s School in Westbury Park, Bristol. Through that project, which will provide a form of later living for residents with additional care provided on site, we will be seeking to do all we can to boost diversity and inclusion – as well as ensuring it is ultra-sustainable.

Backed by Bristol City Council, the charter commits signatories to pursuing seven objectives, aimed at improving the diversity and inclusivity of the workforce, supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or under-represented parts of the local community, and encouraging signatories to ensure those in their supply chains to do the same. The charter also commits signatories to monitoring their progress and regular reporting.

The charter, the first of its kind in the UK,  was founded by Karl Brown who is a partner in the commercial property team in the Bristol office of Clarke Willmott. Karl is also a social mobility ambassador for the Law Society of England and Wales and was the first ever black President of Bristol business group the Bristol Junior Chamber.

Altogether over 50 companies from across Bristol’s property sector have now signed up to the charter, which is a great start. But more needs to be done – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because diversity in itself enhances businesses, organisations and communities, and makes them stronger.

As a project team First Base, FORE and Amicala have a deep commitment to sustainability, but also social value. FORE Partnership, the backer of our Westbury Park project, is a certified B Corporation, committing it legally to pursue purpose beyond profit. It is also committed to delivering net zero projects – with an industry-leading target for its business and projects to be net zero by 2025.

As part of that commitment, FORE is also committed to championing a just transition to a low carbon economy, seeking to ensure disadvantaged groups are not left behind, driving community resilience, skills training and clean growth, while supporting smart solutions around biodiversity, rewilding, and offsetting.

Both First Base and Amicala share this commitment to sustainability and social value: it will run through all that we do with our project in Westbury Park. So, as we develop our plans for a new extra care community on the site of the former St Christopher’s school, we will be exploring many different ways to promote inclusion, along with our commitments to generate positive environmental and social impact through the project.

Get in touch

We are interested to hear from community organisations, charities from across Bristol who share these values and would be interested in getting involved with our project, whether through ‘meanwhile uses’, training or skills development, promotion of sustainability, biodiversity and the circular economy, growing food, art and culture – or simply some other brilliant idea that we haven’t thought of yet.

So do please get in touch with us and help us make the property industry more diverse, inclusive, cleaner, greener – better for our communities and better for the planet.