The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is marking Coming Out Day with the launch of a new digital hub designed to help its members create more diverse and inclusive workforces.

The launch of the hub comes in response to a YouGov survey, commissioned by RICS, which shows one in ten (11%) senior decision-makers at British SMEs in the sector would describe their workplace as ‘difficult’ for LGBT people, with 13% saying this group were not supported in their workplace.

According to another sector survey by Architects Journal, homophobia is rife in construction, with more than 80% of gay men and women in some parts of the industry encountering homophobic comments in the workplace.

The RICS survey also flagged wider industry diversity issues with a fifth (20%) of respondents agreeing SMEs cannot afford to invest in diversity, whilst a similar number agreed that providing flexible working arrangements can prove costly.

 To tackle these issues, the RICS has invested in creating the RICS Diversity Hub, an online portal designed to encourage knowledge sharing and provide practical advice to members and external bodies on how best to embed diversity and inclusion principles in their workplace. In addition, the hub will encourage members to sign up to the RICS Inclusive Employer Quality Mark (IEQM). This scheme aims to make the land, property and construction sector more inclusive and diverse, giving those who sign up a competitive advantage.

RICS CEO, Sean Tompkins, said:

Diversity within the workplace is no longer optional; it is something we must pursue if we are to stay competitive and attract the best talent. The Quality Mark puts RICS at the forefront of the profession by rewarding and sharing best practice, and recognising the work of firms of varying sizes who are working towards the creation of a fully inclusive workforce for our sector.”

“I encourage other organisations from within and outside the sector to visit the RICS Diversity Hub and to sign up to the Quality Mark as a symbol of their commitment to workplace diversity.”

RICS will celebrate this Coming Out Day by hosting their first ever LGBT panel discussion at its head offices chaired by Kathryn Nawrockyi (Gender Equality Director, Business in the Community) with Paul Abrey (Head of Property Management, BNP Paribas), Christina Riley (Senior Planner, Balfour Beatty) and Christopher Camps (Building Surveyor, Cushman and Wakefield). The event will be supported by Freehold, the leading network for LGBT in the Property sector and Offsite the LGBT network for Construction and Infrastructure.

Lucile Kamar, Equalities Manager, RICS, said:

“Having a diverse workforce is vital for future-proofing the property and construction industry. We have to ensure that our profession is relevant and fit for the future, and one of the ways to ensure this is to make the workplace as safe, diverse and inclusive as possible so that we can reach out to, and retain a diverse talent pool.

“We want to encourage people to bring their whole self to work regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The LGBT panel event marks a change in attitude at RICS and demonstrates the importance of inclusion to us across the industry”