Freehold, the leading networking and support forum for LGBTQ+ real-estate professionals, is appointing two new co-chairs for the first time in a decade. After ten years, Saleem Fazal, Partner at Taylor Wessing, and David Mann, Partner at TFT, who are also the co-founders of Freehold, are stepping down to welcome Kelly Canterford and Scott Parsons into co-chairing the experienced board of the organisation.

During the last ten years David and Saleem have pioneered the push to create a better working environment for LGBTQ+ people in property. “We have always aimed to create momentum for change by enabling others to gain the self-confidence to come out within their organisation, become role models and be that catalyst for improving the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in property. No organisation can now say, “we have no gay staff, or we are totally inclusive, as we often heard in our early days,” says David.

  • Some of the many highlights of the last ten years include:
  • Working with industry bodies such as RICS, RIBA, BPF, Revo, Movers & Shakers and the property press to promote diversity and inclusion
  • Working with many industry leading companies who have hosted events enabling Freehold to be a free-to-join individual membership group, making it accessible to everyone in the property sector
  • Raising over £80k for nearly 70 charities over the past 10 years, through members’ generosity
  • Creating a mentoring scheme to encourage individual members’ development, and developing LGBTQ+ role models where previously there were none by enabling people to ‘come out’ at work
  • Notably achieving change in the real-estate industry with the immense support, courage and tenacity of the members.

Whilst David and Saleem will be stepping down as co-chairs of the board, they will be joined by former Board members; Brian Bickell (Shaftesbury) , Brie Stevens-Hoare (Gatehouse Chambers) and Ollie Saunders (JLL) in a new role as Freehold Ambassadors. Their role will be to support Freehold in achieving their aims and generally promote inclusion within real estate.

“As co-founders of Freehold, we are enormously proud of what has been achieved in the last 10 years and, whilst we are stepping down as co-chairs, we will continue to advocate what a welcoming place it is for everyone,” says Saleem.

The new co-chairs, Kelly Canterford and Scott Parsons, are looking forward to bringing a new face to the network and aim to focus on growing the community for LGBTQ+ professionals and allies to make the property industry stand out for acceptance and diversity.

“Being a member of Freehold since its launch back in 2011, I’ve gained so much from the leadership of David and Saleem in creating a path for change and it’s been incredible,” says Kelly Canterford. “I am excited to take from their example and, together with Scott, lead Freehold into the next decade of transformation.”

Freehold is looking ahead to 2022 with multiple new projects, harnessing the success of the virtual events last year and the transition back to face-to-face community work. Freehold will toast outgoing and incoming chairs at their next event with Montagu Evans on 24th February, which will be open to Freehold members.