“Our fathers, partners, brothers, sons and friends face a health crisis that isn’t being talked about. Men are dying too young,” said Movember Foundation’s Russell McIver in his talk with 16 property leaders.
In the film that followed, men read out snippets of their own suicide notes. It was confronting and powerful. Certainly not your usual start to a property dinner.
We need to talk
On Thursday 30th January, I joined 16 leaders from across the property industry as they discussed men’s mental health with the Movember Foundation. Attendees included Founders and Managing Directors of some of the UK’s most notable property companies, architects, co-living and flex operators and real estate venture capital funds.
The seniority of the group was astonishing, and the conversations were refreshingly honest and open.
The evening, which took place at CBRE’s office in St Paul’s, was convened by SPACE founder Rob Marten. His focus was on ideas for how property leaders can approach mental health within their organisation, both for employees, and also with the spaces we create.
The Hard Facts
To begin, Movember Foundation’s Russell McIver shared some confronting statistics and stories on the mental health epidemic. Two particularly hit home for me:
Three out of four suicides are men.
Globally, it’s the biggest cause of death in 15-29-year-old men.
Russell also highlighted the key findings of the IPSOS Mori Survey related to the workplace; one in three people believe that discussing mental health at work would put their job at risk. 40% believe that talking about it could cause them to miss out on a promotion.
It's clear that we have to change this perception.
Movember’s talk was then followed by discussions between attendees that took in two different perspectives; one internal and one external.
Firstly, what property leaders can do within their own organisation to embrace mental health. And secondly, the importance of curating places and spaces with customer or resident engagement as the fulcrum of design.
The message that resonated with me most was the onus on 'bosses' to create an environment for people to feel comfortable talking about mental health within property companies.
Attendees agreed that this is less about HR policy and procedure and more about the culture of the company. This has to be embodied by leadership at all levels. It’s not a box-ticking exercise but a whole-of-company mindset.
A Safe Space
In terms of the places we curate, the group discussed the positive and the negative impacts of technology in connecting people meaningfully, the loneliness epidemic, and the successes and failures of co-living and co-working resident engagement.
We also discussed the challenges in realising people-centric property across project stakeholders over such a long period of time (from architect through to asset management).
And there was so much more we could have discussed.
It's rare to attend a corporate event that feels so fundamentally important. It worked - rather appropriately - because the attendees felt comfortable talking candidly. It's certainly true that when we can create the right environments, people connect in a way that might otherwise not.
Let's keep talking
A practical takeaway to share with you: Movember use the acronym ALEC:
A.SK - Ask how your mates (or co-workers) are doing
L.ISTEN - Listen to what they say
E.NCOURAGE ACTION - Explore the options they might have
C.HECK IN - Keep in touch with where they're at
Let’s keep this conversation about mental health in the property industry going. The stakes are too high not to do so.
Movember aims to reduce male suicide by 25% by 2030. To find out more, visit thier website.
To learn more about how Movember can assist your organization, contact Russell McIver.
Movember Foundation is Charity Partner for SPACE UK, for which CBRE is a Sponsor.