Two years on from the launch of Leadership 2025, Gina reflects on what’s changed in the housing sector – and what’s not.
Leadership 2025 is a business school accredited programme that aims to support and empower BME senior professionals to become sector leaders of the future.
It was launched in 2017 by a steering group led by BME London Landlords and supported by a number of major London housing associations.
In under two years, 11 people have participated in the programme, with a further six now starting year three.
The successful alumni have confirmed what we already knew – that the BME talent is there, but it needs to be recognised and supported. Already we have seen alumni go on to achieve promotions, or taking prominent sector leadership roles. Some have become board members, and one was voted professional woman of the year at a prestigious housing sector award.
Leadership 2025 steering group are proud of what we’ve achieved, but we’re equally concerned that unless the approach to supporting, growing and appointing diverse talent within the sector changes, then the lack of BME people within leadership roles will remain.
We commissioned Altair to undertake a review of the housing sector’s diversity and make practical, ambitious but achievable recommendations for change. This led to a Five Point Plan of action and, with the support of the GLA, we engaged with the sector on its implementation.
So far 21 organisations have signed up to be Leadership 2025 diversity champions, committing to embrace the spirit, if not the letter, of the plan. But this is a small number, given the size of our sector.
Two years on, Altair have updated their review, alongside a new Inside Housing survey. The results paint a mixed but generally disappointing picture. There are some organisations who have genuinely committed to sourcing diverse talent and ensuring their boards and executives are representative of ‘the communities they serve’. But there are others who have only paid lip service to the diversity challenge. And sadly, others still, who appear to have ignored it altogether.
All leaders in the sector should ask what more they can do, including recruiting from the widest possible pool of talent.
Our conclusions now, as they were in 2017, are that there can be no excuses for not making demonstrable progress on the issue of leadership diversity. The best organisations are already delivering or have real plans to deliver. There is much to learn from these organisations.
Your first step to joining these organisations can be signing up to be a Leadership 2025 diversity champion. For more details on how to do this, visit our website.