Where are all the Chief Executives of Colour in Housing?

In recent weeks, there has been an outpouring of announcements of CEOs announcing their retirement and departure from their respective organisations in the sector. This raises the question: what does this mean for the new pipeline of emerging leaders? What will they look like and will they truly represent the communities they serve? Given the current socio-political climate, it is more important than ever to have a diversity of voices at the table.

There is no denying that we are in a moment of transition when it comes to leadership in the affordable housing sector. As the generation often known as baby boomers begin to retire en masse, there is a growing need for new emerging leaders who can take on the mantle and guide organisations into the future. But who exactly are these leaders? And will they be truly reflective of the communities that they serve?

The statistics are well known: the lack of ethnic minority chief executives in the affordable housing sector is abysmal. Through Leadership 2025, we have a plethora of executive leaders of colour ready for their first CEO role. So why hasn’t this breakthrough happened yet? The answer is more complicated than a simple concrete ceiling.

There are many factors at play, but one major obstacle is the way in which we search for and select new leaders. The process is often opaque, with little transparency or accountability. This lack of clarity can allow unconscious bias to creep in, resulting in the same types of people being selected over and over again.

It is crucial that we take a hard look at our leadership selection process and ask ourselves how we can make it more inclusive. One way to do this is to ensure that there is a diversity of voices in the room whenever a new leader is being chosen. This could mean including people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as different genders, sexual orientations, and socio-economic backgrounds.

It is also important to create a level playing field for all candidates by ensuring that the selection process is as transparent as possible. This way, everyone knows exactly what is expected of them and there is no room for any subjective interpretations.

Making these changes will not be easy, but it is essential if we want to create a leadership pipeline that is truly representative of the communities we serve. only then can we hope to achieve the inclusive and equitable future that we all deserve.

Come Lend Your Voice!

We need real tangible solutions that can move the needle.  That’s why Connex is facilitating a raw and candid roundtable discussion that can cut through the noise and get to some of the practical solutions that can make a difference here.  The event is on the 6th of October and we’d love for you to join us.

We’re well aware that many of the people that come along to these events are already fighting the fight – in other words, we’re often preaching to the already converted. One of the barriers that stand in our way is the diversity fatigue that seems to have crept into mainstream consciousness.  There has been a lot of effort over the past 2 or 3 years to bring issues of diversity and inclusion to the forefront and that has been much needed.  But I’ve noticed recently that the messaging isn’t landing as it once did. This is dangerous because if people lose the emotional connection to this issue and become numb to the real concerns, we risk losing our voice again if we can’t capitalise on the momentum that we’ve built so far.  In the wake of inflated living costs, proposed rent caps, concerns about energy, and more – this issue is at risk of being pushed down the agenda once again.

By bringing more leaders into the conversation, we can accelerate the change that we need to see within the sector.

To guide the discussion, we have a couple of incredible guest speakers who will be leading a very honest and transparent conversation:

  • Victor da Cunha – Chief Executive Officer of the Curo Group;
  • Chan Kataria – Group Chief Executive of the emh Group;
  • Lara Oyedele – Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Housing; and
  • Caroline Pillay – Senior Partner at Airey Miller.

We hope that you’ll join us to share your insights and learn about this all-too-important topic.  You can register your interest in attending in person, right here.  We hope to see you there!