A leading figure within the London property sector has called on the industry to take decisive action to end racism within estate agencies and encourage a more diverse range of people to join its ranks.
Becky Fatemi (pictured), who spent 12 years at Foxtons and rose to become its most successful sales star, set up prime agency Rokstone in 2011.
“The property industry is archaic and behind the majority of comparable service industries,” she says.
The 45-year-old has made the comments following the recent arrest of a Savills employee Andy Bone last week after racist taunts were posted via Twitter about the England football team’s three black players.
He is one of four people to have been arrested over racist commentary on social media following an ongoing investigation launched by the UK Football Policing Unit.
Fatemi says that has a woman of Iranian descent she has been aware for some time that many estate agents continue to exhibit ‘us and them’ attitudes towards BAME colleagues.
“I have been trying to start a debate about racism within the industry for some time but it’s taken this Twitter trolling of the England players to trigger a wider debate,” she says.
Fatemi adds that she has been inundated with calls from other companies who ‘just don’t know what they need to do’ after the Savills story broke.
“I think for a lot of these larger companies incidents like this affect their stock market valuation and drive a willingness to change, but I also believe they genuinely want to tackle racism within their ranks and make change happen,” she says.
Fatemi says that, while some progress is being made, often companies who set up employee groupings for different minorities end up placing them in discussion group ghettos and that a better approach would be to unite the whole organisation behind change.
“The problem is that too many black estate agency employees do not work in client facing roles where career progression is more likely, and therefore recruiters tend to carry on looking for candidates who fit the status quo,” she says. “This has got to change.”