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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Leadership and diversity – we need you!


Housing leadership is still ‘too pale, male and stale’ according to CIH President Steve Stride – what can we do to make it more diverse? Meet the members of our new Presidential Commission on leadership and diversity and find out how you can get involved.

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CIH’s Presidential Commission, which was announced by our President Steve Stride at Housing 2014 in June, will examine ways to improve the diversity of our industry’s leaders (including looking at targets) - and most importantly, make recommendations for real and effective change.

It’s going to be chaired by Steve and the other members confirmed so far are:

  • Ashwin Kumar, National Housing Federation board member
  • Farooq Mohammed, who leads professional services consultancy
  • Cym D’Souza, chief executive of Arawak Walton Housing Association
  • Debra Constance, chair of Women in Social Housing
  • James Caspell, business innovation manager at Tower Hamlets Homes and CIH/Inside Housing Rising Star 2014
  • Kate Dodsworth, executive director of people and strategy at Amicus Horizon
  • Michelle Reid, chief executive of Cynon Taf Community Housing Group
  • Jon Prashar, head of diversity marketing at Places for People

We asked them why they decided to get involved – here’s what they said:

Michelle Reid, who served on the diversity advisory board of the Tenant Services Authority prior to its transition to the Homes & Communities Agency, is about to stand for election to the board of Tai Pawb, the national equality organisation for Welsh housing.  She said: “I’ve been banging on about equality and diversity in the housing sector for the past twenty years, so I’m pleased to join the commission and will look forward to making recommendations about how we can truly reflect the diverse voices, experiences and aspirations of our workforce and communities. It’s our best hope for a vibrant, relevant future.”

Cym D’Souza, who is currently chair of BME National, the umbrella forum for BME housing associations, said: “As the chief executive of a black and minority ethnic (BME) housing association and a BME woman who has faced the challenges of being recognised for my leadership skills, issues around facilitating and promoting diversity in terms of housing leadership are dear to my heart. Therefore I was delighted to be invited to join the CIH Presidential Commission, as it is clearly determined to create an environment of change where diverse leadership is recognised as the housing sector’s greatest business asset.”

James Caspell, who is an equality framework peer assessor for the Local Government Association and a mentor for the Housing Diversity Network,said: "Given how diverse social housing is in terms of our workforce and the residents we serve, we clearly need to do more as a sector to promote that diversity at the top.  The Presidential Commission is a chance to learn and share best practice, so that we see more women, BME and disabled colleagues rise to senior positions across the country."

Kate Dodsworth, who sits on the board of Southdown Housing Association and is a mentor for the Charityworks Graduate Scheme, said: “I’m delighted to be asked to join the CIH Presidential Commission on leadership and diversity. It’s hugely important to me that our leaders reflect the great diversity of the sector and that housing is a career choice for all.”

Farooq Mohammed, who chairs The Forum network for BME housing professionals, said: "I’m looking forward to getting involved - if anything globalisation has proved to me diversity is the single biggest driver for growth.  This CIH Presidential Commission presents a unique opportunity to gather evidence and make recommendations which helps us all build an even stronger sector at leadership level, reflective of the diverse communities we serve across the UK."

Find out more about the Presidential Commission on leadership and diversity

Join us at the Chief Executives' and Leaders' Conference in London

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Your comments

  • ?Diversity is very important but, so are equal opportunities for all. If your starting point is that all people are equal it's difficult to argue a case for positive discrimination!

    Underwood, Paul Douglas
  • Thank you very much for availing an opportunity for me to air my personal tribulations as concerns getting into employment if one is born outside this country. I was born in Africa but made United Kingdom my home over ten years ago. Because I found matters to do with Housing are handled differently as opposed to where I came from I took a keen interest to the point of enrolling for a BSc(Housing) degree programme. I graduated in 2012 with the desired qualification but have been unable to put into practice what I studied due to what employers call ''lack of experience''. It is only common knowledge that none is born with experience but rather it is picked from the workplace and the more one works the more experience one picks up but unless one is given that opportunity then fairness will remain just that 'a pipe dream for some' .My numerous job applications have all been turned down leaving me with very little to do, I am able and willing to work even for minimum pay as long as I get that much desired experience, Please help me towards that end I specialised in 'Housing Management' Hope to read from you soon, Thanks- Andrew

    Ngare, Andrew Manwa

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