QIP SPOTLIGHT: Amal Iharkachen 2 August 2022

Amal Iharkachen joins the QIP Board

Queers in Property are thrilled to announce the appointment of Amal Iharkachen to our board. We are honoured and humbled to have such an amazing individual dedicate their time and effort to assist in the support of all LGBTQ+ individuals in the property and construction industry.

We sat down and got to know Amal better.

Q: Why did you choose to work within the property industry?

From a young age I had a creative mind, and my parents helped me materialise that dream by pointing me towards plastics art and interior design during high school which led to me undertake a Masters of Architecture. From that point I travelled the world to kick start my career.

Q: What is the change that you’d like to see in the property and construction industry?

I’d love to see more support provided to queer persons in the construction industry. I find that LGBT people are worried to speak up about their sexuality on construction sites due to fear of judgment, being bullied or rejection.

Q: How do you feel being a LGBTIQ+ person in the property industry?

Usually, I feel good about it. I do get uncomfortable at times around men who make inappropriate comments in respect to two women being in a relationship. I’ve reached a stage of my life where I no longer feel that my identity needs to be accepted in my workplace. We are all equal. Full stop. I don’t go above and beyond to be accepted anymore. 

Q: Why do you think there is lower LGBTIQ+ representation within property and construction, than other industries?

To work in the construction industry you aren’t required to complete tertiary education. You can start off your career as a carpenter and be a General Manager in a firm with 200 employees just 10 years later. The construction industry is full of small privately owned businesses, without management structures including a HR team. All of these factors don’t support active LGBTIQ+ inclusion in my view. 

Q: What advice would you provide to queers looking to enter the property industry?

Don’t worry, you have more allies than you think. Keep your chin up. Be yourself and remember that the lion does not lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.

Q: How would you improve engagement and increase representation of the LGBTIQ+ community in the industry?

Through education and loud and visible awareness campaigns. I feel that by queer people sharing their stories helps to connect with the human side of everyone.

I am also hoping to encourage Developers to put strict requirements for builders who want to participate in their tenders around providing evidence of diversity and inclusion programs and policies.

Q: If you feel comfortable, please share a story of your experience about coming out at work

I hid my sexuality at work for over 10 years as it was illegal where I’ve lived. Since I’ve moved to Australia six years ago, I just thought that it was enough. I was tired of lying and not being myself. I think what sums up my coming out experience is how I have to continually correct the gender of my partner. I regularly am asked what my husband does, or “woah! you’re back at work so soon after having a baby”.

Email us at hi@queersinproperty.com.au if you’d like to get in touch with Amal.