David Mann and Saleem Fazal, the founders of Freehold – a support and networking forum for LGBTQ+ professionals working within the real estate sector – have been named in King Charles III’s inaugural New Year Honours List.
Mann, a partner at building consultancy, Tuffin Ferraby Taylor LLP (TFT), and Fazal, a partner at international law firm Taylor Wessing l LLP, who will both receive MBEs, were named on the list in recognition of the work Freehold has done in making the British real estate sector more inclusive for LGBTQ+ professionals as well as the support it has given those professionals since its 2011 founding. Both are at pains, however, to point out that none of these advancements would have been possible without the support of the wider Freehold team and of supporters including Taylor Wessing, TFT, Shaftesbury plc, Land Securities, and British Land.
“It’s an incredible privilege to be included on the Honours List,” says Mann. “To be recognised like this at a time when LGBTQ+ people around the world face increased discrimination sends a strong message about Britain’s position as a country that is inclusive and respectful of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
“Our inclusion on the list is also a validation of all the hard work done by Freehold team members since its founding in 2011,” he adds. “A lot of people have put in a lot of long hours to ensure that LGBTQ+ professionals feel more welcome and represented in the property sector.”
“When David and I embarked on the Freehold journey more than a decade ago, we had big ambitions,” says Fazal. “ This recognition belongs to the whole Freehold team, Taylor Wessing, TFT, our key corporate sponsors, the property press and all our members who have bought into our vision of a property sector in which LGBTQ+ professionals feel fully welcome and represented. We would not have made so many advancements without the hard work, dedication, and support of many people over the years.”
Since Freehold’s founding, it has grown to have a membership more than 1000 people strong. As well as advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusivity, it has taken more than 50 professionals through its official mentorship programme, facilitated hundreds of informal mentorship chats, held many networking events, and partnered with numerous LGBTQ+ charities and non-profits on important causes.
For their part, the current Freehold board (Fazal and Mann stepped away from their own positions in early 2022) lauded the contribution of the pair to LGBTQ+ inclusivity in a sector which has traditionally been dominated by heterosexual white men.
“What was once a lonely sector for many LGBTQ+ people has become a lot more accepting and inclusive over the past few years,” says Freehold co-chair Scott Parsons. “That’s in no small part thanks to the efforts and vision of people like David and Saleem.”
“David and Saleem’s aspiration for change led to something special which I’m incredibly proud to be a part of,” says fellow co-chair Kelly Canterford. “Their MBEs are well deserved and it’s an honour to be in a position to help maintain and grow their original vision for Freehold.”
Mann and Fazal will be formally awarded their MBEs at an investiture ceremony in the new year.