UK Leader Champions Diversity in the Industrial Real Estate Sector
Andy Griffiths Managing Director and Regional Director, United Kingdom
Solihull, United Kingdom
What does a diversity champion look like? According to Andy Griffiths, managing director, Prologis UK, if we are to truly change the face of the industry, a diversity champion should look like the leader of every real estate business across the globe. According to the association Women in Property, only 15 percent of people working in the property and construction industries in the UK are women.
This is a statistic Griffiths would like to change, and he recognizes that he is in a position to do so: “Diversity is a leadership responsibility, and I know that all our leaders at Prologis are committed to attracting talent from all backgrounds and walks of life.”
The father of two daughters in their 20s, one of whom has opted for a career in real estate, Griffiths believes that greater diversity will enable the industry to improve decision-making and increase performance. He expressed this view recently when he was invited to speak about gender diversity and inclusion in the property industry. In a panel discussion at the inaugural Women in Industrial Property event, organized by the Industrial Agents Society, Griffiths and fellow panel members discussed inclusion and diversity at the industry level.
Offering solutions to close the gender diversity gap, Griffiths says, “As leaders, we have much work to do, but there is enormous opportunity here, not only to attract more women to apply for jobs but also to retain those women throughout their careers by offering more flexible ways of working and providing good role models. To be truly effective, however, inclusion and diversity have to be embedded in the culture of a business.”
Griffiths is a firm believer that one change leads to another. “For our market officer positions, we normally recruit candidates who are in their early 30s and bring a degree of experience to make them fairly self-sufficient,“ he says. “The problem with this approach, however, is that the pool of talent from which we can recruit at this level usually contains very few women.”
To counteract this, the UK team reexamined its recruitment process and made changes to increase the diversity of the talent.
“By recruiting people in their early 20s, we suddenly had a much more diverse pool of people from which to choose,” Griffiths explains, “and this led us to recruit our very first female market officer.”
This approach required a change in mindset for senior people charged with mentoring and hiring new recruits. Griffiths believes this small change to the way people are recruited will bring big rewards over the long term.
“The property industry is currently dominated by white male employees,” says Griffiths, “but they can act as valuable mentors and role models and help us produce diverse role models who will influence future generations. We are all husbands, fathers and uncles. And we can encourage people of all genders, ethnicities and backgrounds to consider a career in our industry.”
Andy Griffiths has been an influencer in the logistics property sector for about 30 years. Starting at Prologis in 2005, he was appointed regional head for the UK business in 2008. Before joining Prologis, he was UK managing director of Gazeley Properties, when it was owned by Asda/Walmart. Griffiths holds a Bachelor of Science and is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Royal Institute of Town Planners.