2024: A New Year, A Bold Challenge.

Happy New Year, everyone! 2024 has arrived and one of my resolutions this year is to reestablish my blog posts with vigour. Last year, I did not post as much as I intended to but going back to when I started my company in 2020, it was to spark some more challenging, even controversial, discussions on crucial topics needed for the sector.

As some of you may know, at Connex Leadership Networks, we don’t just talk about valuing diverse leadership, especially in the affordable housing sector – we demand it. Our advisory panel isn’t here just for show; they play a pivotal role in shaping our programmes and events, ensuring that they don’t just echo an echo chamber but truly reflect the diverse, sometimes clashing perspectives and experiences essential for authentic leadership.

This year, we’re throwing down the gauntlet with the National Housing Federation’s Chairs’ Challenge at our first roundtable discussion next month – one that I think should be supported. For me let’s be clear: this initiative isn’t another box-ticking exercise; it’s a dire call to action for leadership, particularly for board chairs, to stop paying lip service and start genuinely cultivating an organisational culture that values equality, diversity, and inclusion starting from the boardroom.

In my previous blog posts, I’ve regularly called out the vital role of CEOs and executive teams in setting an organisation’s culture. The Chairs’ Challenge isn’t just an echo of this; it’s a stark reminder of the responsibility of chairs in forging an inclusive organisational environment. We need to move beyond just understanding our roles to actively embodying them, proving that equality, diversity, and inclusion are more than just fashionable buzzwords.

Last Friday I had a panel call with the speakers for next month’s discussion and did some further reading to inform the meeting. Do you know that there are only 67 housing providers that have stepped up to the Chairs’ Challenge. This is not just disappointing; it’s a wake-up call. Why the hesitation? Is this because of lack of awareness, complacency, or being devil’s advocate is there an overconfident belief among chairs that their boards are already the pinnacle of diversity and representation?

I do understand, that particularly in the environment that housing organisations are operating in that housing board meetings today are swamped with challenging and conflicting issues. But let’s not kid ourselves – weaving diversity and leadership into our core strategies isn’t a ‘nice-to-have’; it’s a non-negotiable for driving real, seismic change.

The NHF’s Chairs’ Challenge is more than an invitation; it’s a challenge to boards to critically evaluate and develop a vision for a future that’s not just diverse in appearance but inclusive in action and mindset. That’s why we are having this candid conversation next month.

The good news is that momentum is building for our upcoming roundtable on this very discussion. I’m thrilled to announce that a number of chairs and CEOs have already registered their attendance for the event on the 6th. This isn’t just a meeting; it’s a turning point, a chance to make a stand and be part of the driving force for change. So, I pose the question to you: will you be there? Your presence and participation could make all the difference in propelling this movement forward. Let’s not just meet the challenge; let’s redefine it.

To the Connex members who haven’t stepped up to the Chairs’ Challenge yet, expect more than a polite nudge from me in the next few days. It’s high time we move beyond comfortable discussions and start making uncomfortable, necessary commitments. We need to collectively step up and shape a future in affordable housing that’s not just diverse and inclusive on paper, but in every action we take and decision we make.


PS, this has not been written by AI.