There has been a big push on mental health and wellbeing. The Estates Gazette have launched a major campaign for the property industry, recognising the stresses and pressures being faced. Understanding the loneliness in a gregarious clubbable industry is important to really counter the mental issues and problems that abound. I do not believe for all their claims that firms are truly accommodating of vulnerability and mental health issues.
The trouble with dated views
The machismo chauvinistic elements still proliferate the large firms. The youngsters coming through have the same prejudices and misogynistic attitudes of old. I have witnessed first-hand some terrible comments that would have caused outrage in the 1970’s from 30-year old surveyors! I stood up to it but for youngsters starting out they would be more malleable and susceptible to indoctrination. Gang culture, group thinking can be a powerful thing.
I remember Clive Lewis (past president of RICS 1992) came to my degree course in Nottingham and said “you can be an extrovert and know nothing and get on in surveying, or an introvert and know everything and get on; but if you are an introvert and know nothing find another career”. This is as true today as in 1980.
The answer to our wellbeing troubles
The trouble is times have moved on while in reality prejudices have not. There is as much sexism and bullying as ever there was. The fact the main feeder for the large firms is public schools does little for diversity or inclusion into the surveying profession. To bring change it will take positive discrimination. Bringing in a generation of apprentices who haven’t had chances; embracing ethnic diversity in the broadest way possible; seeking to make it totally unacceptable to be racist, sexist or divisionary in any way; these moves would create a property profession to be proud of.
All the while we have to make it entirely acceptable to live with our hearts on our sleeve. To share our mental worries, anxieties and concerns. To bring to the surface when stresses are too much. To make bullying in any form unacceptable. Hopefully we will see the growth of a broad society in property, I certainly hope so. But one thing is for sure, this will take everyone to be conscious all day every day of mental health, prejudice and misogyny. This is true in society as well of course!