Between July and October, Black Women in Real Estate’s (BWRE) Phenomenal Women campaign, sponsored by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, has been showcasing the remarkable stories of five Black women. Having shattered glass ceilings, defied stereotypes, and creating a lasting impact in the built environment, their inspirational journeys are a testament to resilience, determination, and the power of authenticity.
Each participant has risen to the top of their respective organisation and is paving the way for other Black women to enter and thrive in the industry. The hope is that that by sharing the stories of these inspirational women, we inspire others to overcome obstacles and make their mark, regardless of their background.
The message is clear: diversity is a strength, it drives innovation, fosters creativity, and enriches our industry.
We invite you to meet the Phenomenal Women, below, and ask the question: how can we support more Black women to the top?
Olaide Oboh's journey into real estate was marked by her deep love for people and her desire to effect positive change. She navigated various roles, from planning to acquisition and delivery, all while grappling with the stark lack of diversity within the industry.
As one of the few Black women in the field, Olaide initially tried to fit in but soon discovered that her true power lay in embracing her authentic self. Her mentorship extends beyond real estate, as she shares her experiences to empower young women. Olaide's belief in continuous learning and challenging the industry's lack of diversity exemplifies her commitment to positive change.
Banke Odunaike aspired to be a lawyer at a young age, drawn by the captivating stories her granduncle shared about his legal cases. Determination to pursue a career in law led her to the world of real estate. Banke emphasises the importance of intentionality and resilience. She stresses the need to focus on one's purpose and value, rather than being deterred by the lack of representation. Banke's mindset encourages individuals to break free from conventional paths and create their own destinies.
Angela Duru's journey into real estate was an unexpected twist from her initial ambitions in law. Angela’s path to real estate was influenced by her fascination with historic buildings and the built environment. She co-founded a Property and Asset Management team, showcasing her dedication and risk-taking spirit and highlights the importance of finding allies who appreciate one's motivations – emphasising that these allies don't always have to be from the same background. Angela advocates for sharing experiences not only within the industry but also across professions to collectively address issues like speaking over others at work.
“Share your experience with those outside your industry too”
Caroline Pillay's unconventional path from nursing and social work to urban regeneration showcases the power of reinvention. Her transition to housing and regeneration was driven by a desire to impact individual well-being. Caroline's commitment to difficult conversations and her role as a mentor for Black women in the industry underline her determination to drive positive change. She encourages Black women to embrace authenticity and self-confidence, enabling them to thrive against societal norms.
She champions the idea of embracing change and being a catalyst for positive transformation. Caroline's dedication to supporting other Black women in the industry is truly commendable.
Lara Oyedele's incredible journey from homelessness to becoming the first Black female president of the Chartered Institute of Housing highlights the resilience that can emerge from challenging circumstances. Her advice to capitalise on opportunities resonates with her own experiences of turning adversity into success.
“I’m impressed with myself, because I never thought I’d be in this position all those years ago when I was a homeless teenager.”
The importance of this campaign cannot be overstated. Phenomenal Women sheds light on the experiences of these women, bringing their stories to the forefront and highlighting the need for representation within the industry. By amplifying their voices, the campaign aims to inspire change, foster dialogue, and create a more inclusive environment where every individual's unique journey is celebrated.
The full individual blogs are on the BWRE website.
From September 25th we released the podcast interviews, where you can listen firsthand to their insights and triumphs - @BWRE links
And to round up the campaign we are hosting a panel discussion on the 18th October, sponsored by Cushman and Wakefield. This event promises to be an enriching experience where industry leaders, aspiring professionals, and advocates of diversity gather to celebrate the power of representation and the importance of supporting black women in the built environment. RSVP Here
This campaign not only shines a spotlight on the achievements of these incredible women but also serves as a rallying call for greater inclusivity and empowerment.
About our sponsor
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors have joined forces with Black Women in Real Estate to highlight senior talent in the built environment through their flagship Phenomenal Women campaign.
“When we talk about the need for greater representation, too often the response is that ‘finding diverse talent is near impossible at senior levels,’ and this campaign counters that narrative by showcasing some of the senior leaders already making their mark in the sector,” said Sybil Taunton, RICS Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
By sharing the stories of senior women in the industry, the Phenomenal Women campaign not only showcases diverse talent, but also demonstrates to more junior professionals that there are role models in the built environment to guide and support them.
“As a professional body we have a responsibility to motivate and enable the profession to advance better diversity, equity and inclusion. Representation matters, and as we all work to improve it, celebrating leaders through the Phenomenal Women campaign shines a spotlight on the inspirational talent making a difference within our sector” said Justin Young, RICS CEO.
About BWRE – Hanna Afolabi
Hanna founded Black Women in Real Estate (BWRE) in 2019. BWRE is an organisation that aims to bring together black women in property, creating opportunities for upcoming talent and organising workshops for those already in the industry.
Hanna also recently founded Mood and Space, a development company that supports clients in embedding social value in their development vision and strategy as well as efficiently managing the processes to deliver community focused buildings and urban neighbourhoods.
Additionally, she is on Estates Gazette's Diversity & Inclusion Content Advisory Panel, advocating for diverse representation in property.
Read the Blogs