The representation of black women within the real estate industry is very low. The #IAMWOMAN campaign aims to raise awareness of the industry and attract young black women into it, as well as retain the few women already in it. As an industry Madison Berkeley believes we must ensure that the future built environment in this country reflects the society in which we live. As part of the #IAMWOMAN campaign we meet 5 black women working in Real Estate.
Faith Locken MRICS is a Chartered Commercial Surveyor and Residential Development & Regeneration specialist working at Countryside Partnerships. In 2020 Faith founded We Rise In, a business initiative whose mission is to inspire, elevate, and develop the careers of mid-senior level black professionals whilst promoting inclusion, equity, and diversity in corporate industries. Faith was born in Uganda and moved with her family to South East London when she was 3. She went to primary school in Herne Hill and later won a full scholarship to her local independent school. After her A-levels she went to the University of Nottingham where she studied Spanish and Chinese.
As a child I used to love watching shows like ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ with my older siblings. I was absolutely fascinated by the concept of taking a house and making it a home whilst also improving the value. I didn’t know anyone who worked in the industry but property development always intrigued me.
In my spare time at University I used to go to property auctions just for fun. If I saw a house for sale on a street I would guess what it sold for then later check online. It wasn’t until a friend of mine suggested I consider a career in property that I googled ‘careers in property’ and came across commercial surveying. At the time the only property firm I was aware of was Savills, they had a summer internship programme coming up which I wanted to apply to, however I knew I would need to gain some work experience ahead of applying. I immediately drafted my CV and cover letter and emailed around 30 estate agents in the Nottingham area asking for work experience. Only one company came back to me, so during my 2nd year at uni I worked 1 day a week, unpaid, as a residential sales assistant. I was able to use this experience to secure a place on Savills’ summer internship programme. During my year abroad, whilst in China, I did an internship at Chapman Taylor, a British architectural firm. In my final year at uni I applied for graduate placements with all the big property companies and landed JLL. I joined JLL as a non-cognate graduate which meant I had to do a part-time masters in Real Estate Finance and Investment, whilst working full-time, and studying for my APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) to become a qualified surveyor. It was by far the most difficult, yet rewarding time of my career.
I am now a Development Manager at Countryside Partnerships. We work in partnership with local authorities to deliver large regeneration development schemes. I oversee the planning, design and construction of the developments; one day I might be on site meeting the local community, finding out their housing requirements and getting their feedback on the development, the next I may be at head office working with consultants on designing the next phases of development.
It is important that we get more diversity in real estate, and particularly in the construction industry. Having a diverse workforce means that there will be more diversity of thought in the design and build of new developments, making sure that the needs of the whole community and wider society are met.
I started We Rise In as a way to improve the retention of black professionals in corporate industries – too often black professionals leave organisations because they feel they’ve reached the proverbial glass ceiling and they do not see people who look like them in senior positions within the organisation.
Although you may not see someone who looks like you in your organisation, networks like Black Women in Real Estate (BWRE) and We Rise In are working to change this along with recruiters like Madison Berkeley. We offer black professionals a much needed network and community. We encourage and support each other to keep pursuing positions of seniority and leadership within our respective careers in spite of the lack of diversity. With time we hope to improve diversity but more importantly inclusion within corporate environments.