Driving diversity, equity and inclusion in real estate finance

Following the strides made in increasing female representation in the real estate finance sector, organisations must continue to drive long-term change to foster an inclusive environment that offers equitable opportunities to everybody.

The real estate sector is one of the economy’s most influential markets. Yet, as a traditionally male-dominated sector, it’s more important than ever to promote an equitable, diverse and inclusive work culture to every individual working in the industry.

As a result, organisations far and wide, just like ourselves at STB, are rolling out a plethora of initiatives and strategies to showcase their commitment to catalysing change.

A leading example is the Women in Finance Charter. Launched in 2016, the HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter reflects the government’s aspirations to create a gender balance at all levels across financial service firms.A balanced workforce is good for business, customers and, most importantly, the workplace culture. STB is proud to be a signatory of the Women in Finance Charter.

Having achieved the targets set in accordance with the charter, STB published further targets with a commitment to reporting progress against them at the end of the year, including:

  • maintaining a minimum 50% rate of female participants in leadership programmes during the calendar year (58% in December 2023)
  • ensuring at least 75% of flexible working requests are accepted (94% in December 2023)
  • involving a minimum of 50% female participation in mentoring programmes as mentees by the end of 2024 (65% in December 2023)

Businesses in the finance sector are also encouraged to consider adopting internal initiatives to support their own strategies and assist in the development of employees.

In 2022, STB introduced its Mentor Me programme, a scheme that encourages senior female team members to share their invaluable insights and industry experience to help mentor and guide junior female colleagues along their own career path.

Having worked in the banking industry for 22 years, I have noticed everyone starting to support each other much more in terms of gender, race, sexuality or any other characteristic, and that has come about through collective hard work and determination to make a change. I certainly don’t like to think that we got to where we are today just by ticking a box.

Looking at the real estate finance industry, I truly believe that Secure Trust Bank is leading the way when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Most recently I’ve noticed this change of recognising equality in the workplace in my new role where, initially, I was made responsible for the onboarding of new customers.

I’ve found my observations and feedback have been welcomed and quickly implemented to make huge improvements across the whole department. 

While it’s important to celebrate the success experienced so far in striving for change, there is still a long road ahead to achieve total DEI within the industry. Continued long-term commitment is necessary to ensure progress, and incremental changes can truly make a monumental and immediate difference.

Conducting regular wellbeing, awareness and support sessions, forming partnerships with DEI experts and promoting ‘inclusioneer’ workforce champions are all initiatives that can be incorporated into an organisation’s day-to-day operations to drive inclusivity in real estate finance. 

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