The overwhelming majority of people would say, “I am not racist”. Triggered by the death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement has captured the national and international mood. Most of us would say instinctively, “Of course, I agree, this campaign has my support”. The Prime Minister said: “We are all right to say Black Lives Matter”.
The paradox in all this is, if this cause had the real genuine and active support of most of us, there would not be ‘a cause’ to support. If we were truly a non-racist society, we would not need a ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. Racism is much more complex, subtle and sophisticated than individual prejudice. Anti-racism needs much more than words. It needs sustained, consistent, and energetic action to which complacency is the enemy.
The Black Lives Matter campaign is an enormous prompt for all of us as individuals, but equally, if not more importantly, as companies, organisations and institutions, to think and review how we treat people from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background and how we approach equality and diversity in its widest form. This can be very uncomfortable, even painful.
At Altair in 2017 we helped establish the Leadership 2025 programme and continue to be involved as it moves into its fourth year. Working with partners (the GLA, BME London and the g15) we supported the setting-up of the leadership development programme for BAME housing professionals. To date 23 housing organisations have signed up to the programme giving their BAME staff access to the course and this year’s programme was launched earlier this month. Further information can be found here: https://leadership2025.co.uk/applications-1/
Importantly, Leadership 2025 is about cultural shift which needs to happen within the sector and as our colleague Olu Olanrewaju, recently said in his thought-provoking Inside Housing article on diversity in the sector:
“Where is the personal reflections of leaders in the sector? to reassure us that lessons of the past have been learnt and to provide the authenticity required to give us hope. Has it occurred to colleagues that this is one issue that requires fundamental cultural change and cannot lead to long lasting change without authentic leadership? The issue of race and housing raises serious question about the sector’s leadership capability to lead in turbulent Britain, where leadership competency on leading diverse workforce is a must now and definitely in the immediate future.”
The initial L2025 review in 2017 asked organisations to sign up to a simple 5-point pledge, which we would urge you all to do:
- Report annually on key diversity statistics
- Set aspirational targets
- Interview more diverse pools of candidates
- Develop the leadership pipeline
- Lead by example.
The sector needs to change and now, more than ever, actions speak louder than words.
We are also working with the Future of London on the setup of the Emerging Talent Programme (ETP), supported by the GLA, Hill Group, Catalyst, Network and Peabody. The vision of ETP is to create a sustainable legacy by generating more diversity in the built environment sector, reaching out to under-represented groups, increasing awareness on the range of career opportunities there are and offering a two-year training programme to develop the emerging talent that is undoubtedly around. The programme is due to launch in November, if you are interested in being involved please go to: https://www.futureoflondon.org.uk/leadership/emerging-talent-programme/
What are we doing at Altair? At Altair we stand against all forms of racism and discrimination and as an organisation we recognise that we need to do more. We are committed to positive actions which includes updating the way we monitor and report our delivery of the five L2025 pledges and our wider diversity activities which will involve colleagues from across Altair. We are continuing our support and involvement with programmes such as L2025 and FOL Emerging Talent Programme and will use our profile and position in the sector to be a positive influencer for awareness raising and change.
“Actions do speak louder than words, and this is not a short-term fix. Accountability and responsibility are critical to making progress. We must all commit to making a positive difference going forward” Michael Appleby, Markets and Growth Director at Altair.
Article written by The Altair Board.
The members of the Altair Board are:
For further information on these areas:
- Please visit https://leadership2025.co.uk/ on how you can join the 23 housing organisations already committed to Leadership 2025
- Please visit https://www.futureoflondon.org.uk/leadership/emerging-talent-programme/ for more information on the Emerging Talent Programme
- Olu Olanrewaju’s article can be found here: https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/comment/comment/housing-race-where-do-we-go-from-here-66857