Diversity and culture (and you) help us navigate the future
TFT Partner for HR & Operations, Chris Keates-Lewis, explains how a personal and flexible culture helps diverse teams thrive, and enables the business to navigate a changing world.
How can we make International Women’s Day more than just an annual celebration? By acknowledging its central message – that what individuals can do is more important than the labels we might carry, and that nobody should be limited by bias.
It sounds simplistic, and of course the reality can be complex in organisations or industries which have deeply entrenched legacy practices. But wider understanding of diversity as critical to our business’ performance should help to undo these legacies sooner.
We in the property and built environment industries are grappling with challenging forces, including geo-political uncertainty, technological progress, social change and environmental factors too. Together, they are shifting our needs and expectations of buildings, both as owners and occupiers – they also mean more people than ever before can take part in the industry and shape our built environment for a brighter future.
Through over 30 years at TFT, I’ve seen first-hand the evolution of building, growing to encompass a broadening array of issues than in the years before. While tools and knowledge are always developing, we also need diversity to bring greater vision and different talents to complex challenges.
Today, TFT’s teams include more diverse roles and skills than at any time in our history – from sustainability, architecture, engineering, building surveying, wellbeing, energy modelling, development management and more besides. Even disciplines which resemble those we’ve been hiring for throughout our history are changing, with new technology and commercial challenges to address.
We’re proud to look across our offices today and see a diverse array of talented people all contributing their skills to shape the future built environment. We’ve been growing our business with people of all backgrounds, gender, age, nationality and qualifications – creating a richer business from a broad set of roles, skills and perspectives.
It also requires a different approach to management and culture. It means our talent development policy can’t be one-size-fits-all, so we consult with individuals on their own needs and invest in solutions to help them succeed. Whether it’s raising a family, overcoming health challenges, supporting a passion project or changing career path, different people have different needs to meet. As an employer, we want to help our people be the best they can be, whatever their circumstances.
The most diverse organisations aren’t necessarily the loudest ones on International Women’s Day, but those fostering a culture to provide every employee the best experience year-round.
To the pioneers coming in to the industry to build a better future, we hope that TFT will always be a place to grow, challenge yourself and make an impact on the world – and that our differences will only make us stronger.