British LGBT Awards’ CEO Sarah met with David Mann from Freehold to find out more about this Real Estate Intra-LGBT Network.

When did Freehold launch and what do you do?

Since its official launch in September 2011, the group has grown to over 1000 members and continues to expand. The group was co-founded by David Mann of Tuffin Ferraby Taylor and Saleem Fazal of Taylor Wessing.

Freehold is a networking and support forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender real estate professionals working within the real estate sector.

Who can join Freehold?

Membership is open to all individuals who:

  • identify themselves as being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered; and
  • are real estate professionals within the real estate industry.

Our members include building surveyors, valuation surveyors, agency surveyors, planners, asset managers, architects, developers, investors and property lawyers from both the public and private sector.

What has been the biggest success of Freehold so far

By increasing the visibility of the LBGT community within the real estate sector, we have acted as a catalyst for significant change within what was traditionally perceived to be a very macho and not gay friendly career choice. As a result many key employers have now acknowledged and welcomed their LGBT employees enabling them to feel confident enough to come out and ‘bring their whole self’ to work. For many, we have been told, that this has been life changing.

freeheldgroupphotoHow has Freehold been able to support the LGBT community within the real estate industry?

We provide a welcoming, supportive, safe and confidential space for LGBT real estate professionals to meet, share and discuss views, experiences or concerns.

We provide opportunities for peer networking, information sharing, and personal and professional development for Freehold members.

We raise the profile, inspire and promote the achievements of LGBT real estate professionals.

We develop and maintain relationships with other relevant external LGBT groups and networks.

We also provide a platform for fundraising for LGBT community or industry related charities.

What is the support like from some of the real estate bodies such as RICS and the BPF, etc?

We could not have achieved what we have without the support of so many within our industry, these include key employers, client organisations, professional institutions and trade bodies, such as RICS, RIBA, BPF, Revo and the industry media, especially Estates Gazette, AJ and Property Week.

Their help has included hosting events, providing speaking opportunities, organising D&I conferences, sponsoring our Pride entry, publishing features on Freehold and some of our members who are now role models and providing the infrastructure for Freehold to exist.

What does Freehold have planned over the next 12 months?

A Summer reception at the Royal Academy, sponsored by JLL, supporting Shelter.

Taking part in Pride in London parade.

Breakfast event on trans issues, sponsored by Travers Smith.

Evening Reception hosted by Residential Land.

Evening Reception hosted by Savills.

Events hosts by both RICS and RIBA.

Christmas party hosted by Mischon de Reya.

Supporting various charities and other stakeholder events and publications.

Finally, where can we find out more about Freehold?