Last week, Raising Roofs‘ first cohort of future leaders aspiring to become members of housing boards started with a two-day seminar exploring in depth what it takes to be an effective board member, what good governance looks like and how to develop the specific leadership skills required at board level.
The group listened and debated vociferously with top sector leaders, Sheron Carter, Geeta Nanda and Ann Santry as well as professional advisors, Sue Charteris, Andrew Murray and Richard Petty.
The programme continues from May until September with equally high calibre contributors from housing and the wider business sectors.
Diversity in governance is a live issue and, for some housing boards, an urgent one. In 2016, a survey of 100 housing associations revealed the average age of board members is 57, with just four board members being under the age of 30.
In January 2018, 18 out of 64 housing associations polled revealed they still had all-white boards, with another 10 boards being unable to confirm their position on diversity for lack of data.
The nominees for the Young Leaders award are all under 30.
At Raising Roofs we believe such talented housing leaders should have opportunities to participate at governance level, quickly.
If every social landlord commits to recruit at least one board member under the age of 35, this will begin to transform the culture at the top of organisations and initiate a change in attitude towards younger people in governance across the housing sector.
Housing lawyers say that having a policy to recruit a younger board member is justifiable in various ways. The number of young people defined as being in housing need is growing all the time.
Their views and aspirations should be properly represented. This point has been amplified by last year’s tragedy at Grenfell Tower.
At the same time, rapid advances in technology mean that boards ought to have expertise from younger, tech-savvy individuals when considering their organisations’ digital strategies.
One of Raising Roofs‘ objectives is to advocate for greater opportunities for social housing’s talented aspiring leaders to gain places on boards.
We wish every success to the twenty Young Leaders’ nominees and look forward to some of them join the 2019 Raising Roofs programme.