We need more diverse leadership within the Housing & Property Services sector

By Claire Harrison, Senior Manager and Housing recruitment expert at Sellick Partnership

The Housing & Property Services sector in my opinion has one of the most diverse customer bases in the UK. Leaders working within this sector make decisions every day that impact the lives of people of all ages, gender, sex, race, religion and sexual orientation and are often faced with customers with a range of needs and disabilities. For that reason I believe it is crucial that the sectors’ workforce reflects the diverse makeup it represents, however I would argue that this is not universally the case.

Diverse leadership is an issue which is evident across the UK in many sectors, including Housing & Property Services, and I believe that we need to do more to encourage, attract, develop, mentor, sponsor, and retain the next generations of diverse leaders at all levels. To be successful, housing associations need a range of candidates that reflect the social make-up of the areas they work in to help them engage with their customers and bring in different skills and views that will ultimately have a positive impact, but I fear many do not have this.

What can we do to rectify the situation? In my opinion organisations, and those working for and with the Housing & Property Services sector need to be more vocal about what it is they are doing to attract diverse talent. We need to put strategies in place to ensure we are all reaching a talent pool that is truly representative of their customer base. Leaders in this sector also need to do more to mentor and promote diverse leadership within the sector. Leadership 2025 is an excellent example of this.

Leadership 2025 is a leadership development programme that is available exclusively to senior leaders from BME (black, minority, ethnic) backgrounds working in the housing sector. At its heart, Leadership 2025 wants to change the sector for the better, and ensure the BME candidates are equally represented throughout, something we should all be striving for. Housing organisations should consider this, and look at ways we can attract and support all diverse candidates that may be considering a leadership role within the sector.

I also think current housing leaders need to be doing more to promote the sector to young people that are considering the career choices they are yet to make. One of our biggest challenges in relation to talent within Housing & Property Services is that many candidates do not consider the sector unless they have a housing background, and this is something we need to try and change. Many of my clients are already working with schools and colleges for this reason and reaping the results, and I would urge others to follow suit.

In my opinion there has never been a better time to start looking at new ways of attracting diverse candidates. A diverse workforce will not only allow you to respond to the needs of your customers, but will also give you a real competitive edge in the market. Those organisations that do not make this a priority are at risk of losing out to the best candidates and falling further behind in a race that is already off the starting block.

At Sellick Partnership, we regularly help housing organisations of all sizes widen their talent pool and attract a diverse shortlist of candidates. We provide a consultative approach to support organisations, identifying new ways in which they can attract talent by changing their recruitment approach. If you would like to find out how we could help you, feel free to contact me directly by emailing claire.harrison@sellickpartnership.co.uk or call me on 01332 542580.