08 Mar 2023 | Diversity and Inclusion

Championing BPF staff and stakeholders on International Women's Day 2023

This year, BPF is supporting International Women’s Day 2023 by championing some of our own staff and stakeholders in the industry.  

Internally, the BPF gender make-up of staff is just more than half are female. This helps us make more balanced decisions and approach problems from a range of different perspectives. Being the voice of the industry, we need to walk to the talk – not only encouraging other firms to champion diversity and support women in property, but to do so ourselves.  

The property industry thrives because it has great problem-solvers, creative thinkers and analytical minds. However, just like many other industries, it needs more women in senior roles to better reflect and represent UK society. So, this year I hope you enjoy reading about a few of our BPF women. From Past Presidents to the voice of the next generation they all have interesting pieces of advice, industry insights and experiences to share.  

- Melanie Leech, CEO, BPF 


Giving us all the opportunity to come together  

“I think International Women’s Day has two key aspects,” says Jessica Hardman, BPF Junior Vice President, BPF and Head of European Portfolio Management at DWS. “First, it gives us an opportunity to acknowledge how far women have come in the workplace and to champion further progress in equality. Secondly, it gives us all, including our male colleagues, an opportunity to come together to network, attend inspirational events and celebrate good culture where everyone can achieve and feel included.  

“Working for DWS, a global company, and with my focus on international investors, I love the diversity of my role and the wide range of people I work with. Whether that is race, culture, or approach to real estate investing; my team and I work in a dynamic setting investing globally for global clients.” 


“A key change I’ve noticed in the industry over the past few years is how we manage and inspire people. Managers, mentors, sponsors, and allies are better equipped to guide the industry’s next generation to be inclusive, forward-thinking professionals. This also includes the opportunity to be reversed mentored; a great experience to get a complete understanding of industry from all angles.”  


Any advice for upcoming leaders? “My best advice would be to network. The deeper and wider your network is, the broader your own knowledge pool becomes. Networks like BPF Futures are a great way to start. Be prepared to also give back and share your knowledge with others. That way it’s a win-win!”  


BPF Director of Strategy and External Affairs, Deborah Walker, is a relative newcomer to the industry, having honed her communication skills in political journalism, the higher education sector, and as Head of Corporate Communications at HS2.  

“The unique thing about the property industry is the breadth and scale of the industry and the array of different sectors and roles that sit within it. There is literally something for everyone, whether you’re academic or hands-on, technical or general, outdoorsy or have a passion for city life, there will be a role in the property industry that you’re suited to. 

“I would say that by its nature it’s also a fairly optimistic industry. Companies and their people are generally invested for the long-term, whether they’re investing money or time in a project, that’s probably what makes it such a sociable and friendly industry.”  

What’s piece of advice would you pass on to other women entering the industry? “Definitely spend time building your network. Oh, and I’m told that flat shoes or trainers are essential at MIPIM!” 


Kirsty Wade-Potter is the BPF Head of Engagement. Kirsty knows the property industry well, having worked at Addleshaw Goddard before joining the BPF. We did a quick-fire question round with Kirsty.  

What does International Women's Day mean to you? “It means I’ll celebrate those who inspire me today and every day:  Emmeline Pankhurst, Iris Apfel and Frida Kahlo.”    

What do you like about your role? “I love the variety of people I get to engage with. Plus working in real estate, I get to see a regeneration project from an idea to fruition – the ever-changing skyline in that we live, work and play in!” 

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given? “If you came up with 10 ideas and only three worked, you would be three steps closer to making a difference!” 

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