Changing the statistics on BME leadership

Securing a place on the Leadership 2025 programme, together with acquiring the role of Director of Operations/Deputy CEO at YMCA West London, alongside turning 50 years of age were a few of my most momentous accomplishments of 2017.

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My current portfolio includes housing & support, health & wellbeing, youth support, advice, education, training provision, a café, a Nursery and a wide range of children & family work activities and reporting currently to the Interim CEO.

As a former CEO of a small BME, I appreciate that being part of the Leadership 2025 programme, combined with my current position, offers me a solid platform to thrive.

With this as a starting point, I believe I am in the best position to become a 2025 leader and make a substantial influence on the future of the social sector.

I have worked within the social sector for over 30 years in roles, ranging from front line to senior management.

Apart from my early years of employment, all roles have been in the public sector (housing & support), an unplanned but a gratifying career path.

My desire to secure a leadership role arose whilst in my Senior Housing Officer role, when my then line manager advised in response to a complex decision I was seeking her involvement with “I trust your judgement; whatever you do will deliver a positive outcome”.

At first, I found such feedback empowering but even more importantly realised her response was based on her view of my measured approach to situations, which she felt were balanced and showed insight in making complex management decisions.

This experience encouraged me to explore management prospects, which followed shortly.

Once moving into management, I adopted an approach where I wanted to get the best for all in support of achieving a positive working and a productivity culture.

I am not shy of hard work, I seek to advance my career prospects as a 2025 Leader and succeed as a proven leader.

Securing my first CEO position for a small charity over 12 years ago allowed me to quickly gain an insight into the required competencies to lead an organisation, together with the importance of maintaining clear strategic and operational processes to deliver a sound business.

I believe a good leader is visionary; one who is trusted to delegate and hold accountability for key decision making, whilst being open minded.

In addition, a good leader is a great communicator, listener who works well to bring their team with them, embraces change.

Certainly an approach I adopt and one I believe will be developed further during my Leadership 2025 journey.

As a National Training Award Winner 2007, I have continuously engaged in learning & development and have a passion for lifelong learning.

I currently hold qualifications in Housing, a BSc and a PgCert. in Business Strategy.

I believe my experience has provided me with opportunities to join national decision-making bodies, including membership of the HCA’s Advisory Panel for Supported Housing, a Member of the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Advisory Group, a member of Slough Borough’s Strategic Advisory Group, Chair of Solfed, South London small housing group, NHF’s Executive Forum member and BME National Vice Chair, to name a few.

However, the stark findings of the lack of BME Leadership in Senior Management positions published in research conducted by Altair, “The Altair Review, delivering a step-change in ethnically diverse leadership across the housing sector, 2017”, highlighted a survey which showed out of those who responded there were only 3 BME CEO out of the 64 in the sector; that out of 735 board members only 50 were BME.

This research highlights a current lack of BME Leadership in Senior Management positions.

My challenge is that it may become difficult for me as a BME Leader to secure senior management positions, despite my personal confidence and my record of achievement.

I’ll be aiming to change those statistics over the coming years.

In the meantime, I’m lucky to be on a great top management programme, to have the benefit of a sector leader mentor, in Brendan Sarsfield, CEO of Peabody and to have an opportunity reflect on what I’ve achieved to hopefully give others similar confidence that they can achieve also.

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