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098 Challenging Biases in Surveying with Selina Baptiste
Episode 983rd November 2022 • The Surveyor Hub Podcast • Marion Ellis
00:00:00 00:46:27

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Selina Baptiste is a Chartered Surveyor with experience in the built environment as a commercial manager and a cost consultant. She is a Quantity Surveyor at Gardiner and Theobald.  In this frank and insightful conversation, Selina shares her experiences navigating her career as a woman of colour, a parent seeking work-life balance and the surveyor she is.

What is Covered: 

  • Selina’s journey into surveying and the hurdles she had to overcome
  • Work-life balance challenges and retention issues for women in surveying 
  • The benefits of experiencing all aspects of the built environment 
  • How the diversity topic came much more into light in the past few years in the surveying industry
  • How women surveyors can support the next generation of surveyors as role models
  • The biases Selina was exposed to throughout her career and how she responded to them

Connect with Selina Baptiste:

Connect with Marion:

Resources: 

The Surveyor Hub:

Transcripts

Transcribed by Otter.ai

Marion Ellis 0:50

al Women's Day event in March:

Selina Baptiste 1:21

Yeah, that's why it was just talking about what the different struggles were with each one of us. But in general, because we're all so different. And probably a bit too old for Matrics now. But technically, I'm still in the 10 year studying period, pre-qualification, whatever it is. But yeah, so it was just talking about how we feel,l it affects those that are still looking to do APC, those that are training or those that are trying to enter the industry. So it was quite a good panel for the day. And with everyone else talking about yourself as well talk about women like,

Marion Ellis 1:57

Yeah, it was really good, because it was the first time they had RICS had organized a women's event by themselves. That wasn't you know, from now it caught? You know, I have a couple, but certainly the first one that I attended, it was great that it was live as well, because obviously this was just as we were coming out of COVID, so the limited numbers but didn't it didn't feel like that it was quite it was good record recording of it not to put any pressure on you in case you know, I don't listen to these podcasts either think, oh, God, but there's a recording of it. So I'll put that in the show notes, because it was really interesting and refreshing. And I think also the talk that Charlotte Neil gave at the end, I don't know if you caught that where she talked about actually some of the stats for female members of the RICS, and how women have an average membership of 16 years compared to 28 years. Yeah, that was interesting. Yeah, and it was, it was good to see, actually looking at this data for once and sharing it. Obviously, there's work to be done not just by RICS. But actually all the firms. Because a lot of women I've talked to, you know, there's often focus on the next generation. And you know, everyone else is sort of coming through and I know a lot of surveyors who come into surveying later on in life. So we're not quite we're new to the industry, but not not that useful. Yeah, but when you look at steps like that, you just think, Well, where do we all bloody go? You know, there’s the retention problem. And, you know, we've made lots of progress in terms of women coming in and diversity, but it's that retention. And I know that's something that hopefully they'll be looking at going forward. But the reason I want to be on the podcast, I remember was I've sat there watching you on the panel. And panels are always awkward, because we've never done them before. And so people can be a bit stiff. I mean, it was a great panel and criticism, but I did go on the panel, and I can't remember you asked a question. And you just gave the response of just like, are you kidding me? Oh, I just go and do it. But it was a replay. I don't remember thinking, oh my god, she's so down to earth. I need to speak to her. I'm just, oh, that's exactly why somebody can just have a good chat with, it's not gonna be like pulling teeth and quite refreshing as well. I think you're talking about your kids. So there's something, so tell that for people listening to the podcast, we get lots of students and people of all different flavors and sizes. But tell me about the kind of surveying you do and how you got into it.

Selina Baptiste 4:36

Yeah, so I mean, it's a strange story how I got into it, because I had no idea about it. But the crazy thing is I found out that my dad was a surveyor. Yes. Crazy. It was only after I found it so basically I started after I finished I went to uni, and literally it was I didn't really know about surveying until I used to work as an estate agent after uni. I mean I went to uni Hi, John Locke management media St. Mary's, I wanted to get some music. I wanted to like, I don't know, go have fun things in life but actuallt realized maybe I should have a career, stayed pregnant my last year with my eldest daughter, and then realised I just need to finish her degree, just get on with it. And then I started to work as an estate agent. It was only when I was sitting down with a tenant that there were lettings. And I looked at his salary, and it was a project manager. So what is this? How did you get into that? And it was basically in the state agents in Wembley. And he was around and he was moving his family over to the UK. And he was basically I'll go, I'm working at Wembley, it's a great role. They're looking for a lot of women's go into that. And considering he wasn't from the UK to say to a female, that oh, actually, a lot more women should get into the industry, it was quite, I didn't realize until then, that, oh, someone is telling me that it is actually a problem. So I started to speak, being an estate agent also had a lot of buildings, the buyers spoke to the directors, and I found out they were actually sponsoring a lot of the younger guys that were there. But for some reason, they didn't want to sponsor me. But then I thought, You know what, I'm not gonna, I'm always someone who, who is always if I'm told that I can't do something, or they're not going to help. If you're not going to always feel that maybe someone's holding me back on purpose, generally thought, I think it's just a mental thing for me, I think I've always been brought up like that someone's gonna hold you back, even if you think you can't do it.

Marion Ellis 6:38

I guess it gives you that fight, doesn't it? You know, just sort of can't it's like, when you're going up again, you'll do it, you know?

Selina Baptiste 6:47

t's going on. I'm sure it was:

Marion Ellis 9:54

It's interesting because a lot of women reach out to me and I had someone do Just yesterday on Instagram reached out to me to say, I've got three kids, I want to get back into my APC, but I just don't know whether I can and I don't know, where to get support or even how to begin. And, you know, you just want to give someone like that a big hug. Yeah. Because we've, you know, when you've had kids, and that really resonates, you know, the, even if you're not training, you know, but coming away from a job, and then going back into it, the confidence, you know, you change as a person, and, and all of those things, but you find a way, there is a way, there is a solution, and it might not be the ideal, you know, and it is a case of compromise. Absolutely. But I think all women have that with kids. You know, I remember my corporate career, you know, when I had my daughter, you know, my job was helpfully moved from Milton Keynes to Manchester, and I was expected to stay over and things but I was breastfeeding. And I used to do, you know, I used to get like a six o'clock train, and come back in time for pickup because there's no one else to pick up. And it's exhausting. But you find your way. And you do it to a point if you know there's a goal at the end of it, you know, achieving your chartership, getting qualified, getting the job, and it's worth it. You know, so I think when do you signpost people like that, we have a women in surveying Facebook group, it's the most informal group you will come across. And it's not there to give a professional women's network as such you know, there's so many different women's networks in the built environment that can help you with your career. Sometimes you just need to speak to another mum. Yeah, and say, I can do it. You can do it too. It might be Different but let's just, you know, have that sisterhood if you like friendships and fellows, you know, we women's groups, you know, are a bit Marmite for some people. And you know, some one of our most popular topics this summer has been? Do you wear a sports bra? And what do you wear in the summer? Because it's so hot. Where else can you have those kinds of conversations? But aren't those conversations just as important, as impostor syndrome, And let's, you know, sort things out, get our career going. Sometimes it's the practicalities, you know, so and also women like you and you know, this idea that reach out to me, you build massive resilience, massive resilience, you know, it'll help you move forward.

Selina Baptiste:

You just gotta keep on going. Like, if you don't, you've got your end goal, like 100%. I don't, you can't stop. I mean, we stopped so many times in our career, I think. And it's only in the past few months, I've realized, because, like, I used to be that grad student, even though it's like in my mid 30s, thinking, I want to get there, why they get promoted quicker than me. But I think actually, wait, that guy hasn't finished work, doesn't have to, like, drop kids off, doesn't have to take maternity leave. So they have to go back and start again. And obviously, I have changed jobs a few times. But it's like, now I've realized you don't want you just have to just keep on going just like you said, if there's an end goal, and you think oh, wow, I've reached it now.

Marion Ellis:

I think that's really interesting. I saw a picture graphic someone shared on LinkedIn recently. And it was like a race track. And it had men and women lined up for a race and the man had a clear run around this racetrack. And women had to jump over the iron and washing the kids and everything. And you can either look at that as a negative, it's a barrier. It's a challenge. And you know, I don't dispute that. Yes, it is. But also, I think we should all might as well start to look at that and say, Isn't it amazing that she can jump through hoops? O'Brien in boards and still get there. And that's the way that I look at it because as women we often I used to earn a little NCT group when my daughter was born. And like I said, I second child had no mates. So I just thought, oh, that new town. And what I learned is, you know, the multitasking comes from home, you know, the management comes from working out where your kids are and where they need to be. And all of those skills, they might not be in the office sense. But they're absolutely, you know, decision makers and we take responsibility. And I think we can really, really disregard that. So, you know, anybody looking to recruit needs to see past that and we might not be able to articulate it. And it's hard when you've had a gap, I think, you know, in terms of your study or career, but never ever be ashamed of that.

Selina Baptiste:

Yeah, I think maybe as I've gotten older, I do wonder maybe because now I'd like now I've done my efforts and I've got my APC and I think I'm finally I'm actually charter that all these years. I thought about it, but sometimes what 10=12 years but actually it's even more important because I want everyone to do, everyone's capable if I can do it, someone I just couldn't do it like 100%. It is just that dedication. And yeah, I find if you need to stop and look after the children, like, don't feel like you've done, because that's how I've been gone, I've done. I'm waiting again and then you hear someone else's sad. But you're happy for them, you know why? And then you have to value, for example, free route. Yeah, I've got finance, we've got one and at school, I've got to be the next. They've got to be the next person on that waiting list. And you say, Okay, fine. I've got other things to think about. And I think when I felt pregnant, and it was COVID, I thought, What, wait, I've just got to do it. And it's just I think when people move my dad when you'll hate me for saying it, because he'll deny it right now. But he said never have don't just go and go into real estate then be a QS.

Marion Ellis:

Red flag went straight for it. Yeah. Studying and qualifying through COVID, then?

Selina Baptiste:

it's a good thing that our RICS I've moved it to Teams now. Because online assessments Yeah. Yeah. Because I think the best thing, I think the nerves when you speak, when I spoke to others, it's like, you have to go into like Heathrow or Birmingham got to get somewhere, and you've got to be there for a day. And it's just that nervous, like anxiety. I mean, it's very anxious when you're doing it. But I thought my mindset was like, let me let me stay and try. Because if I don't try it, I'll never know what it's like. And if I fail, I felt that that was my mindset. If I felt like at least I tried it, I know what to do next. Because I'd be talking to myself.

Marion Ellis:

What support did you have, then? Did you work at a company?

Selina Baptiste:

No, say, at that time, I was working for a contractor who didn't really care, to be honest. But because I had my documents ready, I didn't pay for an external assessor to review it. And to be fair, it was actually friends' support, like, colleagues, like old work colleagues. And there's probably about three of us going through at the same time, but they assisted us on my work, oftentimes, I didn't get to sit, and I got really frustrated. So I ended up finding like an independent person to try and sign off my documents, but, and then it was really just friends support, like work colleagues I've made, like when we talk about women and supporting each other, when I really think about half of my close friends in school, my close friends, the women that I've worked with, because we've all actually gone through those crazy struggles. And it's actually, they might be like, 10 years younger than me, but in their early 30s, late 20s, or like my age, but actually, I have made the closest friends through work because we all generally support each other, because we know what it's like, especially in construction, especially in the built environment.

Marion Ellis:

And it's that camaraderie. And I think particularly for women, as a lot of research on this women tend to be friends, you know, it's unnatural, you know, you can go on the whole gender thing, but you know, as a general rule, we just want to support each other. It's nothing worse than women who don't, you know? I mean, yeah. Yeah, but we absolutely, absolutely need that. And I think for anybody listening to this one, I would hope that if your student are going through APC, just know that you can do that. And there is support out there and things. But if you're an employer, or if you're, you know, experienced surveyor, the support that you can give makes a massive, massive impact. And we see this sometimes in the survey hub, the Facebook group I run are some of the connections, I put people in touch with each other. It's not about signing up as a mentor, you know, for a two-year program and commitment and all of that. Sometimes it's just giving the pep talk, sometimes it's just posting a picture of something you’ve seen and explaining it because particularly to COVID on the defect side and residential side, we didn't get to see many properties, you know, and so it's really, you know, just a little nudge makes a massive, massive difference. And it's a way that you can give back and support each other, you know, financially you can't support and it's difficult with the big firms because they've got graduate schemes, and it's all about getting them out and, you know, that's a whole sort of different beast. But yeah, so many people like you don't know where to go, actually, people can't afford to pay for an external provider to get through and the quality, you know, they're not approved by RICS, a standard you know, I'm not saying that they're bad but you know, there's real mixed reviews and so knowing who to trust who's got your back, you know, is it's quite an investment and the thing is, I don't know about about you, but you know, for me, like Qualifying was life changing, it meant my salary doubles and I could feel earn properly meant I didn't lose my flat for the mortgage. And I just felt I had this sense of identity after being lost in the wilderness for years, and it just gave me that grounding anchor that I am worth more than I think, in that respect. It was. It's quite powerful. What we're asking you about. So you said you weren't for Barclay homes, I used to work for a house builder, as well. And on this podcast, we love hearing career stories. Everybody says they fell into it, you know, gotten into it. So what was that like working for a house builder?

Selina Baptiste:

I mean, it was definitely an eye opener. Because I was in that Greg mindset, I needed to get my APC, it wasn't really their focus, I suppose. Because they're client based, really. So it's not really for them as they benefit or at that time there was no benefit for them to have Chartered Surveyors. And a lot of people there weren't transplants. I mean, you would obviously have your handful because each region was different. But I ended up leaving their graduate scheme to go to another graduate scheme.

Marion Ellis:

you have to move to get the experience, don't you?

Selina Baptiste:

Yeah. And for me, I realized I'm definitely more of a people person, by the idea of being stuck in the office, it's not so much as a grad, I get the grad schemes are great for those that have just left uni. And I didn't realize that until when going to two grad schemes. And that's because I don't, I don't, I'm not saying I don't need people skills, but I enjoy talking to people, I probably talk too much I need to calm down. But I think the fact that you learned those skills as a graduate from uni, you know, dealing with professional people, but for me, it was just understanding the real job like understanding costings, like the design teams, like how it went to lengths to build something for and find suppliers. But I also enjoyed watching the build. So I left consultancy to go to a builder. And I worked for builder for a year and a bit before they went into administration. And I wanted to keep that momentum because I enjoy building your trains. I like building with the plumbers and the electricians and I enjoy that interaction, actually understanding it because if I don't, I'm a visual learner. I need to see it as well as read it. Yeah, because I have to it

Marion Ellis:

Honestly, it resonates so much. You know, when I joined a graduate scheme I used to work for it used to be called land homes back then. And yeah, I'd taken a few years out before I got my degree. And I got on this graduate scheme when it was six months in different places around the country, having never left Wales before. It was quite daunting. And I remember on the first day, you know, the other grads were worried about picking up the phone and talking to people and I was thinking, how the bloody hell am I gonna survive 18 months. I learned lots of other things. And like you, I'm a visual learner, I've had to experience something to stick in my head. And, you know, I, I did things like buying land. I remember we did this. It was over in Kidderminster, it was like a piece of land and I had to do all the work for it. Now, this is not pre computers. But you know, it was quite simple. We had paper and stick a map and stickers on and, and I did all this work. And I came up with a value of like 5 million. Oh, my God, you know, that kind of money. 5 million? And they said, Yeah, well, yeah, this is really good. But we're gonna offer seven just because we want it. Yeah. I did a bit in sales and marketing. I did time on site, you know, St. Albans learning what that was like, but I also did a bit of work in the commercial department, you know, working out the materials and the cost. And I couldn't do that I'm afraid here. It just broke my brain. But what I liked about that kind of scheme was you got to see how your input made a difference to the end products. Yeah. And I think so often, as surveyors, we work in companies like this. We don't ever work in silo, we don't have the industry in context. And I spoke about this a lot to the surveyors that I work with and coaches, you know, like for your home surveys, for example, you go and do the survey, but you don't know what's going on before you don't know what's going after you don't know what's going on with the market. Yeah, you don't need to know. But you need to have a perception of it and keep up to date with it because things change and it means you can help your client better. And so having that zoomed out view of the whole thing was massively beneficial, but they weren't interested in RICS at all. And I remember I was in like a planning and development department sending this stroppy graduate email saying I will become RICS membership. Guy was just like, for god’s sake, what I did in there The writing's on the wall that I was troubled. But what I did all the way through was keep up my APC diary, keep up my records. And I got a little bit of experience that I could use. But when I left, that's when I joined a surveying firm for what was meant to be three months valuation experience. And it turned out to be 15 years, I ended up staying there, you know, so you do, you do have to know what you need, but recognize that not every employee can give it to you. Yeah, and that's okay. And sometimes, sometimes when I hear graduates unhappy with their employer, it's like, well, in the nicest sense, they've got a big company to run. But they don't quite at the bottom line, when the pressures on them take control of that and move around.

Selina Baptiste:

You can't take that person, but you understand. I mean, there's one thing I mean, I suppose, my dad's say and I'll just be careful, some people hold you back on purpose. Sounds as you can see that in some firms, so but you've just got to be very lightly set, but just have your eyes open to understand where you where your set goal is, and just work towards it. If you're not getting the support, internally fine. But I suppose it's, it's your personal goal, and they have their business to run. But as people can sort of understand when they don't really want to help you, because it may not help them because they're not charted, if that makes sense.

Marion Ellis:

It’s really interesting actually learning about businesses and how businesses work and operate. And I think you said you did a management degree, so you might have a bit of a better understanding. But it was a totally different, you know, kettle of fish for me to get my head round. And what I've never been very good is the politics, you know, and you walk into some organizations, and there's a clear hierarchy of who can speak to who, and what, where, and when, and an open door policy, you can always come and speak to me, but don't open that door. There's all of these rules and unwritten rules, which are really confusing, I think, for graduates and graduates often report to or relate, linked to the senior management, as well as people on the front line. And so they sort of bridge the hierarchy if you like. And that can be really difficult. That means, you know, sometimes you can be seen as insensitive, or expect just things to be done. And then you've got what, why it's a real eye opener, and I'm glad I did it. It was really, really hard. But it taught me a lot about people. And you're right, people who hold you back. And my first job once I graduated from there was in a sales and marketing team. And I had a awful boss, who just made me cry. And it's funny, because he's, you know, and you mentioned people holding you back the whole, you know, I guess the whole diversity piece and, and that as well. But, you know, I didn't experience anything apart from that. I think he just had a problem. Apart from that, I didn't think I experienced any kind of discrimination, or I mean, yes, it's not many women about and so it was whatever, but I never really experienced it until I was quite senior level. And then it was all by stealth. And you know, so when I guess I sort of came into the industry, I thought sexism and things like that would be more blatant. But actually, you can deal with people like that really Well. I remember a member of guy when I was pregnant the first time a guy saying, oh, Marian, your boobs are looking big. And you just say, we just don't say that kind of thing anymore. And he was mortified. And it's almost like you can handle some of those things if they're blatant because that becomes that sort of unconscious bias or by stealth. It catches you on the way and then you Is it me? Am I paranoid?

Selina Baptiste:

Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

Marion Ellis:

It's really hard. Hard, isn't it? I mean, how have you found I know, you've sort of worked with a lot of people from diverse backgrounds. But how did you find that experience? Or was it something you deal with? Or was it not until a point?

Selina Baptiste:

I think because of see I've grown up outside of London. I'm not. I mean, half show when I went to primary school was the only black girl in the whole school and then going segments going into Catholic schools, only black girls in the year. Going into work and being the only black person in the room hasn't really phased me is not too much. It doesn't surprise me. Well, I've worked in an organization where it's very multicultural. It's very diverse. And it's great because you can feel that you're a bit more open and honest. But I think now, I don't know. I don't know what it is. I mean, it could be like COVID, it could be George Floyd, because I'm charted now. I can say, well, I don't know. But actually I think now the diversity topic has been more spoken. It's a lot more spoken out there, like, especially and I'm definitely more passionate about the gender split rather than that. But I'll tell you, I'm more passionate about both together, because they're both quite important to me, because I have close friends that are just women in the industry from a white background, but they still struggle. Like they still feel like they are being held back. And vice versa. I mean, yeah, I'm, I was saying to a colleague the other day, I don't think I know anyone, a black female that's a chartered QS that may be a director in a firm and waiting for the day that I can actually meet someone, but actually, should I wait for that day? Or should I work towards that, but I'd like to see it before I work towards it. But I think it's an industry where we do. I mean, it's that unconscious bias. It's that imposter syndrome that you do. I think for me, one law was a woman QS. So it's a woman director. No, and that's good. And, and then but even then, like you feel maybe, I mean, currently, for example, I'm done and field road. And they do a lot of women networking which I find really good. And I haven't been in a business that does that as much. And they had a networking, quick networking event. Last month, and it was really nice to see different women as partners and directors in the firm. And just speaking to them genuinely like how did you get here? What did you do? And it was like, pretty open. And I think we need a lot more of that in our industry. I know there are women in property and stuff. But sometimes it's quite hard to find as a grad unless you really search for it.

Marion Ellis:

I think that's absolutely right. And on that I would say a great website for people to go to. Or if you've got an organization to sign up to is BuildingPeople.org think it's building people to own I'll put a link in the show notes. I interviewed Rebecca Lovelace about a year ago now. And she's doing that pulling people together, or organizations together. So there's one point, yeah, there's, I think there's something like 76 different women's groups in the built environment. I mean, we're really good at organizing groups. And that's why I never set up, you know, Women in Surveying, as a group, it's more of a movement, if you want to be in the little Facebook group. And whatever you can you No, it's not about sometimes it can become quite territorial, and you have a committee and a board and a budget, and then nobody stands up to your events, and why aren't we going to events, and we should really rethink these, these things. And I think we've got to view it in a different way. The reason a lot of these organizations were set up 510 20 years ago, was a different landscape, to what we are where we're at now. And so we've got to keep on moving with, what's the culture and even even now, we talk about male allies, you know, and we need to, we need to let men in, you know, we need to have safe spaces where women can talk about their sports bras, whatever this place is like that, but we also need to let men in to help us because coming forward want to help us, whereas in the past generation, actually, they weren't allowed to because their parents were, like, the dads weren't allowed at the birth of their kids. And, and so things are moving. So we've got to keep on moving it forward, but recognizing it's moving at the same time. And some of the things you said there, I think were quite interesting, because I found that I didn't have role models. I'm, I'm 47, I came into the industry was about 26 or something like that, you know, I felt I didn't have role models, or relatable role models. And because I've never worked for a corporate in that sense. I did for a bit, but I didn't know see anybody like me, anybody from my background, and I consider myself privileged to a degree, but role models are important. And like you, I was waiting for somebody to show me the way, I found that I didn't qualify for mentoring schemes, or I couldn't afford them, or the companies for the time wouldn't put me through. So I've self-funded my own personal development. And so just being able to do that, what I then realized is that I am now the role model, or I can be the role model and you only need to be one or two steps ahead of somebody else to be able to help and I absolutely hate that term role model. But, you know, I don't want to be alright, you know, I've got a podcast and things but I don't want to be in the spotlight in that way. Because you're set for fail. To know that we can do well that we can do and what I'm passionate about is empowering people like you, like other you know, speaking to another lady up north yesterday about something that she's setting up for in Leeds and in the Northeast. I want to help people like that, go and do the next thing, because that's what I didn't have to share, you know. And so I think the more that we can share that, firstly, it just feels good, really good to help somebody and give them that nudge. But we're breaking the pattern.

Selina Baptiste:

I think that's because I don't, especially in the building trades, like you don't really see many black individuals joining into, like, as a quantity surveyor, or even in the built environment of the buildings. I mean, it's quite challenging, like I was going to schools, and even in schools like going to like, in London schools, or even outside Hampshire. It's hard to explain or hard to explain, but kids don't even know about our industry. And that's a thing. Because if they know what a doctor is or a lawyer. So actually do you know what a surveyor is? Lots of things.

Marion Ellis:

I guess, I get, and I guess this is where maybe it's time for collaboration and working smarter. I remember at one point hearing that, I don't know, there's only 200 I think different types of surveyors registered with the RICS, as in job titles and things, that's a lot. And if we think about the different roles, you can be a surveyor and not a member of the RICS. Of course, yeah, yeah. And if you think about all the different roles in the built environment, they're huge. And therefore, aren't we better to collaborate and say, Okay, go into schools and talk about construction, STEM, engineering, and when the right time is to mention these words, like surveying? Yeah, let's face it, you know, and get it a bit, it feels like we're all going in in silo. And that's quite fusing numbers. Or maybe it's time for that. You mentioned impostor syndrome. And this is something that both of us women apparently suffer from Selina at some point in our career. Tell me a little about what that looked and felt like for you. And have you ever banished it from your life?

Selina Baptiste:

I think maybe I've thought about it more thinking maybe do more self reflection for a child. But I suppose you always, for me, like, always been like, the black person in the room you you have sometimes it's such that someone thinks you shouldn't belong there. So if a comment does come up, I'd probably go not against it, but can we make the comment back? Like, why did you say that? Or I might be the PA or? I don't know, just here to take notes. It's like, well, I'm helping, I'm gonna get you paid. So be quiet. Okay. I have a bit more respect, but it's not even. I think, then, actually, it's maybe not making that assumption, because I suppose everybody thinks differently. And it's just, I suppose, lying in that, because there have been times where people will make comments. And, you know, like, like you said, about the boobs and whatever. It's like, oh, even as a woman, like, can you? Can you speak English? And like, do you understand what I'm saying will be quite patronizing. It's like, but do you understand what I'm telling you? It's, it's, I suppose it's just pro se, like having bigger boobs and flickers in the room. But it's like we have to now in this industry, fortunately. But it's just making myself aware that it's not just it, is it? I mean, 50% of the time, or shall I say, 50? I don't know, I know that whatever calculations, but it's not all the time that people are always judging you because of the colour of the skin. But it does happen. And when it does happen, it's just making sure you address it hasn't, then I think that's quite important, especially for people coming in, in the industry, because I just started a mentorship through a new program, where it's about those that are diverse, joining the industry, and I mentoring a younger guy who's Black, who is a PM in a contractor firm, and he's had those signs and incidents, and he's only in his 20s. And it's been told by contractors that Why are you here? Do you understand what I'm saying? He's black British, like, why are those conversations happening again, and he didn't want to bring it up to his employer. But I thought, well, if we don't address it, then it's just going to continue to happen.

Marion Ellis:

yeah, it doesn't stop does it?

Selina Baptiste:

Yeah. That annoyed me. Because I think now, I feel like, is it because the younger generation or not so much younger, because he's new in the industry? He's too scared to say, and that's a younger guy. So imagine if it's a younger woman, I mean, I'm assuming it'd be even worse. Yeah. That made me quite angry because we have to be able to speak out and not feel like if I'm saying something, am I saying that because I'm causing trouble? Because that's sometimes it can feel like that another impostor syndrome thing. Actually, I need to say it because

Marion Ellis:

Yeah, I think what it does is it makes you doubt yourself. Yeah, that's me, I remember going to university to contribute to a women's event they had, like 10, 15 years ago. And afterwards they had students on the table. And then we as employers and mentors sort of walked around. I remember one lady saying to me, because we talk about construction, what do you do about the men? And I said, Well, I'm not fighting them off with a stick. What do you mean? But she'd had this perception that construction wasn't for women. And so sometimes, it's almost like becomes a self fulfilling prophecy in some way, if you go in expecting a hostile environment, your whole body language of always everything, you know, looks nervy and awkward. And then on the other side, you've got somebody who has never maybe never met or worked with somebody different to themselves. And they've got no understanding or education on Okay, well, how do I approach you know, and, and therefore, things don't come out clumsy. And it all breaks down. Now, clearly, there are some idiots out there and people with prejudice, that aside, but I think if we can do more to be compassionate and learn it, okay, if someone's saying, do you speak this language? And you're with passion, saying, Yes, I do. What can I help you with? You can build relationships from it. But every time those things happen, it chips away at you. And it comes back down to your confidence levels, and to have that real grit and determination and to know yourself well to be able to go through it. And unfortunately, that can come out as Mrs. Angry, aggressive person. And I've seen because that and when I was sending my stroppy email about the RICS 20 years ago, that's when I was, you know, it was just I didn't know how to fight my corner in a way that can be heard. I was just, you know, labeled with all sorts, but came across that way. And there's a great piece of research on this, actually, I don't know whether you've come across it, I'll put a link in the show notes. It's a Harvard Business Review paper that came out last year, and I think it's called Stop telling women they have imposter syndrome. And actually that is all about that, I think you'll enjoy it. I'll send it to you. It's actually all about, actually we don't feel inclusive. We don't feel included. And that's women of colour and the research and things around it. But if we label women with imposter syndrome, that all of a sudden, it's something that we relate to, but actually feel welcome. Because it's different to you. Yeah, it's quite.

Selina Baptiste:

I think that's it, I think it will change, hopefully touch. There will be different kinds of sight, and I won't get looked at. I don't care if you can put it. But the fact is, like if Yeah, I think it's just that's why what you're saying earlier about the retaining women in here, I would be the fact that I know that women are leaving, because they don't feel welcome. I'm gonna stay here until I die

Marion Ellis:

Depending on the membership fees, but yes, that was a whole other debate. But ya know, I'm going to show that it can be done. And there's another lady I'm trying to get on the podcast, actually. And she's a QS, I think, and she has been a member for nearly 15 years. Yeah, we want to hear about people like that. Yeah, you know, we've just, we've just got to, you know, things will change. But I think if we, instead of waiting for those role models, those women, we have to become it. But we are not them. You know, I'm not going to be a Chief Exec of a company and talk about my imposter syndrome on a stage. You know, I'm gonna talk about what it feels like on my podcast in the Facebook group, because that's, I can do it. And someone else will do it in a different way.

Selina Baptiste:

I think you want to support that next, not even the next gen that next person like that can be even like that role higher than you, but you want them to get them because you want to be like well done. You want to get that support? And that yeah, definitely. And that's what you enjoy seeing when you see someone working up to, to be their best that they want to be. And that's quite important for me, especially when you're quite close to like individuals, and you see how they are in their career. And that's, that's not your right, that's probably more enjoyable than like, sometimes yourself. Just on that, that next step.

Marion Ellis:

Yeah. So you can't do good without feeling good, you know, not really. And therefore if we do more of that, and you mentioned before, about, you know, the support that you had with younger people, the reverse mentoring, you know, I've got so much from that. You find role models and support in all sorts of places, different shapes and sizes, you know, the thing we've got to do to remember to say thank you. I know I haven't probably done that as I was growing up or you know, but Well, I'm now I think, just remember to say thank you. Small things make a difference.

Selina Baptiste:

That's true. Yeah, definitely. I completely agree with that. Could you do remember? I think you do go on reflection. I think. For me, it's like, oh, yeah, like if they didn't say that, I wouldn't have done that.

Marion Ellis:

Sometimes it's not, you know, paying someone to get you to the APC that makes a difference. It was the person that spoke to you while you're bawling your eyes out on a Friday night. The kids went to sleep and you're gonna do your work that gave me that. I've had that. And honestly, Selina, it's been fabulous to catch up with you. I'm so glad that we got to do this. All right. You take care of.

Selina Baptiste:

Yeah. Thank you. Bye.

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