The Power of Honest Conversations About Race, Equity, and Inclusion

Our activities are wide-ranging here at Connex, but one of the key topics that we’ve consistently been working on has been race, equity, and inclusion within the affordable housing sector.  The systemic inequities that exist in our system continue to be prevalent and we’ve sought to use our platform to bring them to the front of mind of the affordable housing industry more generally.

To do this, we’ve hosted a number of roundtable discussions where we’ve brought together our own industry as well as leaders and thinkers from outside the sector who have been able to provide valuable insights on how others are thinking about the same issues.

The main takeaway from these is discussions is that:

Conversation is powerful.

But, it cannot end there.

Our conversations about difficult topics must lead to practical action if we are to manifest the sort of culture that we want to see in the affordable housing sector.  I’m writing this just after Race Equality Week where social media was flooded with conversation and support for this mission.  This initiative should be applauded but we have to be careful that it doesn’t just become a weeklong struggle that we soon forget about.  We need to feel the impact throughout the year, not just during times where we choose to highlight it.

So, how do we take these conversations and turn them into real progress?

That’s the big question, isn’t it?  Figuring out how to manifest these discussions has been what we’ve been working on at Connex ever since we started and it remains the key differentiator for us.  We really pride ourselves on how leaders and the sector as a whole have rallied behind this call and are taking the messaging back into their organisations to enact meaningful change in the spaces where they work.

To further accelerate this impact, we’re very excited to be launching our first thought leadership report: Honest Conversations: Race, Equity, and Inclusion in Housing.  This report represents a collection of some of our insights on the topic, drawing wisdom from leaders that we’ve engaged with and laying out some of the practical steps that the affordable housing sector can take to alleviate some of the inequities that are still prevalent within the sector.

The key differentiator for this report when compared to others, is that we’ve gone out of our way to incorporate the views of other sectors to provide colour around these challenging topics.  We strongly believe that this sort of interdisciplinary knowledge can be of immense value because of the unique perspectives and paradigms that come along with it.  If we are to make progress as an industry, we need to be able to incorporate innovations and strategies from outside our immediate vicinity.

In the report, we focus on five key questions:

  • Should we stop using the term BAME?
  • How can we tackle unconscious bias in executive recruitment?
  • How can we be a good leadership ally in the workplace?
  • What has changed after a year of BLM?
  • How can we drive organisational success through inclusive leadership?

These questions give us important starting points from which honest conversations can unfurl.  Each one raises key principles, ideas, and implementation strategies that can help you fight for equity and inclusion in the spaces that you operate in.  It’s not a panacea but it’s our best attempt to summarising the state of our thinking when it comes to race, equity, and inclusion.

We hope that you’ll download the report, of course.  But more importantly, we hope that you’ll take the ideas within it and bring them to life in your organisations.  Conversations are powerful, but only when they lead to action.

Let’s build a better industry, and world, together.