Lacking experience

Diversity. It’s a huge, challenging subject that the UK housing sector is doing a great deal to improve.


Whether it be the lack of BME leaders, equal pay for female staff or our unconscious bias which sustain these outdated inequalities; I think there are few people prepared to put their head above the parapet and say that things fine as they are.

Why would they? It’s a myth.

At work, I’ve been wrestling with my own conscience of-late. Not about diversity but a range of issues.

I find myself losing conviction in some of the things I was certain I was correct about because, for some unknown reason, I feel compelled to always fully consider the opposite point of view.

This is a challenge as a young, cocksure millennial; because the mainstream media would have you believe we know everything and we’re damn sure about it. Well, we don’t.

I had this conversation with a senior housing professional recently and was reassured that this is, in fact, an excellent trait.

Being able to see issues from both side of the argument is essential in leadership and it should be used to arrive at a point where your conviction is based on a balanced view.  

There’s something I’ve not lost any conviction about. That is the discrimination of youth. Of young, talented professionals, in particular.  

Naturally, I’ve even questioned this. I read an article recently that described ageism as the ‘last taboo’. The article wasn’t making the case for the discrimination of the young, though.

Apparently we are ‘worshipped’. This was making the case for an age group soon to be bursting at the seams. Of those in middle-age, perhaps approaching retirement.

There’s some sense to this; as the retirement age increases people will need to work longer and it should undoubtedly be a consideration.

Don’t be fooled into thinking our young professionals have it sorted, though.

Age, particularly discrimination of the young, is a subject I approach hesitantly.

The discrimination of female employees, BAME employees or older employees is often quite discreet. Horribly discreet and covert.

However, when we talk about young people it appears to be almost overt. It’s not uncommon for me to referred to as a ‘young lad’ or spoken to in a way that my older counterparts would never be spoken to.

I’m a proud member of the CIH Futures Board.

A group of dynamic, young people created to drive diversity and younger membership within the institute. Without exception, they have all experienced the same situations.

Let me make clear how good these people really are. I’m talking about the likes of Elly Hoult, Neil Goodrich, Adam Clark, Cheryl Tracy and James Caspell to name but a few.

People so professionally impressive I forget for just a second the nonsense that can surround us.

Some young people have had board opportunities denied to them because ‘they might find it a bit stuffy’ but my personal favourite is that we ‘lack the experience’ required to be on boards.

These are people who have the ability to change the World. Their experience isn’t lacking, it is required.

I write this as recent articles inform us that only 2% of housing associations have someone aged under 40 on their board and that since 2007 the average board member age has increased from 57.9 to 60.3.

We may be aware of it, but we’re not doing enough to change it.  

I made a commitment when I completed the NHF’s Influencing Academy that I would work to increase the presence of young professionals on Boards.

With the help of my CIH Futures colleagues and the NHF, working alongside programmes such as Raising Roofs, we will do this. 

For this, I have lost absolutely no conviction.

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