THE COMPELLING CASE FOR DIVERSITY IN REPURPOSING RETAIL
Posted by Estates Gazette on 11th Nov 2019
I’ve never knowingly turned down the chance
to give my opinion on any subject, especially retail property and placemaking,
but we really are thrilled that the Estates Gazette has asked Ellandi to
contribute a regular column under the by-line of Repurposing Retail.
Over the coming months my colleagues and I
will be going up to the 600 word limit to share our thoughts about the good,
the bad and the ugly of what is going on in our part of the industry;
celebrating the success that we see in projects and initiatives across the UK, as
well as being realistic about the enormous challenges we all face.
So on the subject of success, it would be
remiss not to use this first column to reflect on how proud we are as business
to have won the inaugural Estates Gazette Rewire award in recognition for
Ellandi’s achievements in promoting diversity and inclusion in the built
We genuinely believe that Ellandi leads the
industry in this, reflected in our 50:50 gendered senior management team and majority
of female colleagues, but also the fact that 30% of our colleagues are from a
BAME background and the age difference between our oldest and youngest members
of staff is 49 years! Our team of only 28
is currently made up of an Aussie, a Mauritian, two Ukrainians, three people
from the island of Ireland, a hugely unpopular Saffer and even a Welshman.
But at Ellandi we always challenge any
claim or assertion with two key questions:
Why? And so what?
Answering the first question is actually
surprisingly difficult, especially as we have reached this position without a
specific diversity policy and without any concerted effort. I’ve genuinely reflected hard on this over
the last week or so and the best explanation I can think of is because of Morgan,
my business partner, and my backgrounds.
There cant be many £1bn plus property companies founded by a couple of
state educated lads born in places like Maesteg
and Hartlepool, and maybe this slight outsiders view of life has led us
down the path of building a business that worked for us, rather than the accepted
way of doing things? I genuinely don’t
The “so what” is a lot easier to
From a team point of view, I would say it
is priceless, but having just signed off the champagne bill from the awards
dinner, I can confirm success is certainly not without cost! However I am utterly convinced our progressive
ethos will not only help with staff retention, but is helping us recruit staff
into what, it has to be said, isn’t exactly the most enticing of industry sectors;
at least of a superficial short term basis.
More importantly, though is the competitive
advantage that it gives us, and I am not talking in respect of pitching to
investors or potential partners; although this cannot be under estimated. What is really exciting is the fresh thinking
that the make up of our team brings to every level of our decision making. At a time when the challenges to our town
centres demand fresh, bespoke, and dare I say it again diverse, solutions, having
people in the room from a range of ages, backgrounds and experience is more
likely deliver the appropriate solutions.
A team that more closely reflects the
communities in which we work, will increasingly be more important than the combined
experiences of middle class, middle aged men, who make up too many of the
decision makers in our industry.
That is the compelling business case for
diversity in repurposing retail.