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LGBTQ+ property group hires first “ally” board member

Freehold, a networking group for LGBTQ+ members of the property industry, has added its first board member from the straight cisgender community.

Anyi Hobson

Anyi Hobson is director at SEAM Advisory, a company providing solutions for Built Environment, Public Realm and Social Impact Projects.

Hobson said: “I joined the Freehold LGBT+ board because the real estate industry provides a unique opportunity to reshape the built environment into relevant, welcoming and safe spaces for those for whom they were not necessarily built in mind in the first place.

“My last period of activist engagement was in the 1980s and 90s. Today, I feel a similar urgency to advocate for intersectionality, intergenerationality and allyship.”

The group said intersectional and intergenerational approaches must play a substantial role in how the property industry chooses to ‘show up’ for the LGBTQ+ community, seeing as the industry has traditionally been led by white cisgender men.

Scott Parsons

Scott Parsons – co-chair of Freehold and chief operating officer UK at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said: “Our latest appointments bring a wealth of experience to Freehold. Kelly and I would like our board to be as diverse as the wonderful community we represent, and with Sarah and Eric representing the next generation of real estate leaders, Warren advocating for the disabled and bisexual communities, and Anyi as our first ally board member, the breadth of talent, passion and perspective on our board is now stronger than ever.”

Freehold mentors members of the LGBTQ+ community to develop their careers and discuss workplace issues. The mentors come from backgrounds like architects, surveyors, lawyers and those in property management.

Warren Stapley

Warren Stapley – board member of Freehold and DE&I and responsible business manager at Montagu Evans, said: “It’s an absolute privilege to work alongside the newly-expanded Freehold board, including my fellow new director, Anyi – and of course to welcome our NextGen members Sarah and Eric too.

“For me, joining the board of Freehold is about role modelling, allyship to advocacy; for too long before leaving corporate law and moving into the DEI space, I felt unease in not ‘showing up’ enough for my own community, nor being openly part of it.

“Freehold is an integral part of how I’m rewriting this narrative – and it’s wonderful to be part of an experienced Board that is so driven to make positive change. Freehold is more than just events and networking.

“It is a safe space, a celebration of identity and a pioneer of real estate LGBTQ+ visibility and representation, too. Whether you’re a part of our rainbow community or an ally, we encourage everyone working in the real estate sector to support Freehold’s mission and to get involved in our exciting work.”