LONDON: A new initiative that aims to bring together British Muslims in the real estate and construction sectors will encourage inclusivity in the industry and help professionals to reach their full potential, a leading diversity specialist believes.
“Islamophobia is a thing and it’s impacting professionals and getting in the way of them reaching their full potential. We need, as an industry, to have more of the uncomfortable conversations that we’ve been shying away from for too long,” Sybil Taunton, head of diversity, equity and inclusion at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the founding of the Association of Muslim Surveyors held at the RICS headquarters in Westminster, Taunton said the new network will offer solutions to problems that British Muslims face in the industry and “bring uncomfortable conversations forward.”
The initiative aims to support Muslim surveyors who are working or looking to start their careers in the property and real estate sectors.
The association is open to all at various stages of their careers, including students, qualified professionals, and experts who may want to pass on their knowledge.
“Islamophobia is a topic that I don’t see talked about enough within our industry. If the Muslim community is not represented as well as it can and should be, why are we not having the conversations around it?” Taunton asked.
“When individuals come together as a network, then we see movements, and that’s what we’re seeing through the Association of Muslim Surveyors. I’m really inspired by it,” she said.
The event was attended by over 85 people from around the UK, and Taunton said that the gathering allowed guests to “see the power in numbers.”
“When networks come together and they show that power in numbers, it is inspiring for the next generation to go, ‘yes, that is my community, I see myself in that, that profession is a safe space for me. I’m going go explore a career there.’
“And so I do think it’s a significant move to bring a network together because it will drive that really important recruitment piece for future generations to find a home here,” she said.
Jang Shabbir, a British Muslim who is managing director and head of real estate of international consulting group ValuStrat’s Saudi Arabia operations, attended the event despite being based in Riyadh.
He said the initiative has great potential, and will give British Muslims in real estate a professional voice.
Shabbir said he expects AMS membership to multiply rapidly and that “the word is getting around the Middle East as well.”
“A number of Middle East professionals have heard about this initiative. So now they’re passing on the message,” he added.
The director and founder of the initiative, Sarah Chaudhry, said Wednesday’s event was a great success and she hoped future events would be bigger.
“This is our first and founding event in an institution where we are such a tiny, tiny minority. So it’s massive,” Chaudhry said.