Building Pride at JLL

Joseph Jagger, surveyor in our Property and Asset Management team shares his story and the reason why he joined Building Pride, JLL’s LGBT+ internal employee network.

June 18, 2020

Since I joined JLL three years ago, I’ve always been aware of JLL’s LGBT+ network. I’ve read their newsletters for years and *almost* attended their events and functions but questioned what value it would add to my life, career or professional development. Surely in 2020 we’re past all of this, the world’s a wonderful place and I could frankly do without the additional activity in my inbox.

2020 is the year I have finally decided to be involved. I’ve reassessed the industry I work in and having looked around, I have realised that it’s time for me to do my bit because I’m at a stage where I feel I’ve been extremely fortunate myself.

Change of career brought me to property 

I’d worked in retail since I was old enough to get my first job. The brands I worked for were selling jewellery, fine linens, fashion, beautiful china and glass - and all around me it seemed that it was a safe space for an out, gay man to operate. It was my territory where I could be as flamboyant and (dare I say it…) as fabulous as I wanted to be.

An unfortunate redundancy and change of career direction meant that I found myself entering the world of property. I’d gone from selling dresses to discussing fan coil units, lift motor rooms, loading bay operations, surrounded by a plethora of alpha males, security guards and maintenance men who took one look at me and realised that everything they said would go straight over the top of my head. They were right, and I knew nothing about the industry. I now found myself in meetings filled with very white, very straight men whose only way of explaining was to mansplain it at me.

I felt like I stood out worse than a Britney Spears fan at a Radiohead gig, and didn’t feel confident to ask any questions or push myself on the technical aspects because the environment didn’t feel like one where I could ever make any kind of valuable contribution. 

Things have moved on considerably since my first property job and I am now part of a great team at JLL. Whilst the culture is one of hard work, we are all encouraged to bring our ideas and feelings to the table, which in 2020 has become more important than ever!

Proud of who I am and what I contribute

Working with supportive colleagues has improved my confidence. I was quickly promoted within a year and my imposter syndrome diminished. I realise now that I don’t need all the answers to the technical questions - I have colleagues who can help. It turns out I bring something new and unique to the conversation and this is welcomed. Put simply, diverse teams are better and more likely to deliver great results. 

I’m at the stage in my personal life where I feel settled (with my partner of eight years) and with my career, I am progressing to my RICS Associate RICS qualification and feel mostly positive about the future. So, I think it may have been a surprise to colleagues that I decided to join the Building Pride committee.

Standing up for change

Arguably, my story isn’t a harrowing tale of homophobic abuse and fear and as I’ve already said I feel lucky, especially given what is happening in the world right now. What’s important in my story is that it all came down to the team I worked with and feeling that I was accepted for who I was. 

Right now, somebody somewhere is in a job where they feel they can’t be themselves because of their sexuality, religion, disability or the colour of their skin. And that is wrong. 

I feel strongly that there is still worked to be done. The property industry is slowly changing, and we are seeing better representation, however as I look around there are currently very few LGBT+ role models in senior management. 

We need to empower unrepresented groups. Everyone needs safe workplaces to thrive and be themselves. For this to happen more quickly, there must be better understanding and representation and businesses need to drive cultural change from the top down. 

Now more than ever everybody needs to do their bit, no matter how small. So, I’m doing mine. I’ve become a Building Pride committee member to play my part for positive change. 

JLL’s internal LGBT+ and Ally employee network - Building Pride - is open to all and looks to support and empower LGBT+ professionals to reach their full potential. We also have a Gender Balance network, Working Parents network and our Race for Change network which represents our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues. Our ambition is to promote a positive, respectful, equal and fun environment for all our people and to champion and encourage a more diverse property industry.

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