Leadership 2025, an initiative sponsored by L&Q, Optivo and BME London, announced the first six participants of its intensive nine-month business school accredited programme.
The six participants, all of whom went through a rigorous selection programme, come from a range of housing organisations, include some of the largest and some of the smallest in the country.
In addition to the formal learning, they will also receive mentoring advice from current housing sector leaders, attend masterclasses on technical aspects of housing association leadership, and receive exposure to leaders in other sectors
In addition to the formal learning they will also receive mentoring advice from current housing sector leaders; attend masterclasses on technical aspects of housing association leadership; and receive exposure to leaders in other sectors.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London’s housing crisis is one of the biggest barriers to Londoners fulfilling their potential: it holds back growth, increases living costs and stops Londoners from sharing in the prosperity our city generates.
“That’s why as mayor I’ve made clear that tackling London’s housing crisis is one of my top priorities. And if we’re to meet to this challenge we need to make sure our housing sector can draw on the talents of people from the widest possible range of backgrounds.”
Gina Amoh, chief executive of Inquilab HA, chair of BME London Group of 14 BME Landlords and member of the Leadership 2025 Steering group, said: “For our sector, it is specific, tailored and relevant. Probably more relevant than the MBA that I have, which was interesting and useful, but not nearly as directly focused on our sector as this programme is.
“I hope that many of my colleagues and the next generation of leaders will step up to take part in the programme, supported in their ambitions by their employers.
“Our ambition is to have a pool of talented leaders in our sector from BME backgrounds, recognised for their leadership qualities and pushing for opportunities to be leaders across our sector.”
The event also launched The Altair review – creating a more ethnically diverse leadership across the sector. The research project explores what organisations and sector leaders could do to effect a culture change in the leadership at the top of housing organisations.
The housing association sector has always prided itself on its inclusivity and focus on meeting the needs of diverse communities. The creation of a BME housing sector in the late 1970s and early 1980s was regarded by some as the most bold, ambitious and successful equalities and empowerment programme in Europe at the time. It was a demonstration of how important diversity was to the sector’s core purpose.
It is not that the talent doesn’t exist. Research by The Guardian and Operation Black Vote – as part of its Inequality Project – has shown that BME individuals in major organisations are over-qualified for their roles compared with their white counterparts, This led them to conclude that BME talent “is not necessarily lacking in abundance, but it is seriously lacking in support.
Steve Douglas, co-chief executive of Altair, who conducted the review, said: “The business reasons to achieve ethnic diversity across leadership teams are compelling.
“From research undertaken by academics, business leaders in other sectors and other countries, and business advisers such as McKinsey and PWC, we’ve identified a number of clear benefits that can be gained by housing associations. These include diversity of thought leading to better business decisions, more effective solutions and greater connection to communities.’
The review has a practical but ambitious set of activities to effect the step-change called for.
Steve added: “We have been encouraged by the levels of engagement from consultees and commentators, many of whom have already pledged their organisations to be part of the leadership index of champions, committing to take forward the plan of actions, and acknowledge the urgency for action.”
Speaking at the launch, Paul Hackett, current chair of G15, the group of the largest housing associations in London and chief executive of Optivo, said: “As current leaders we must take responsibility for our watch. Lamentable progression rates of my brilliantly talented BME sector colleagues will hold back this amazing sector unless I’m prepared to do something.
“I’m going to take this challenge on the chin. This is my problem. I hope my fellow leaders will do the same. We have a strategic problem and, like any leader, it’s our responsibility to take ownership and sort it out.”
To find out more about the Leadership 2025 initiative, The Altair Review action plan or how to be part of the leadership index of champions for diversity, further details can be found at www.leadership2025.co.uk.