Feeling excluded?


Leadership census

Feeling excluded?
22 April 2005

Housing likes to think its staff are as diverse as the population it works for. But the results of Housing Today’s census show women and those from BME groups are all but excluded from the top jobs. Over the next 12 pages Kate Freeman, Katie Puckett and Sonia Soltani look at the findings. Illustration by Alex Williamson

By Katie Puckett, Kate Freeman and Sonia Soltani

For a sector that prides itself on being socially aware and inclusive, housing is doing a pretty lousy job of bringing diversity to its own workforce.

At first glance, things might look fairly impressive. Housing Corporation figures from 2003 show that 70% of people working for associations are women, and 13% of staff are from black and minority-ethnic backgrounds – compared with 76% and 6.9% in councils and 51% and 7.9% of the whole UK population.

But in an exclusive survey carried out over the past two months, Housing Today has found the story to be very different when you look at the people in the top jobs. Our census of the people holding power in England’s 100 largest councils’ housing departments and 100 largest housing associations has found that just eight associations are headed by a black or minority-ethnic person. Even worse, just one council in the top 100 has a head of housing who is not white.

Our census was prompted by the corporation’s Leadership 2010 initiative.

It set a target that 50% of registered social landlord chief executives should be female by the end of the decade. But since Leadership 2010 was launched in 2003, the proportion of women in top jobs has failed to budge: it’s still a dismal 13%; and the picture is just as bad in council housing departments, of which just 12% are run by women.

Over the next 12 pages, we look at how the women or BME leaders compare with their male and white counterparts, ask experts why the situation is so bad, and look at what is being done to change things.

We also look forward in time to when today’s white, male chief executives and housing directors are due to retire – hopefully opening up space for a younger, more diverse generation to take their places and paving the way for a leadership that is altogether more inspiring for those currently working on the front line.

27/04/05 Economic boom eludes the poorest

Economic boom eludes poorest  

Economic boom eludes poorest

By Katie Allen

GLASGOW (Reuters) – The economy has enjoyed a record stretch of growth under the Labour Party but in poorer parts of the country people say they feel left out of the boom.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown have made Labour’s economic record a central plank of their bid for a third successive term in power, trumpeting low inflation, interest rates and unemployment.

But recent figures show the country’s poorest 10 percent became poorer last year and a study this week revealed the nation has one of the worst levels of social inequality among rich nations.

In the east end of Glasgow, many question what fellow Scot Brown has done for them and wonder whether to vote at all in next week’s election that Labour is widely expected to win.

"Nothing has really changed. I’m staying in a house that is unbelievable in terms of the work that needs doing to it. There are rats running around the ceiling," said Janet Collins, 29, a hospital cleaner and single mother of three.

But few in the Labour stronghold say they will protest by voting for another party on May 5.

Biscuit factory worker Iris Lennon says she is not sure it would make a difference. "We have lost all the work and factories around here, everything is shutting down," she said.

The city once known as the workshop of the British empire now has the lowest employment rate in Scotland at 65 percent compared with 74 percent nationally.

Unemployment is almost double the national average and nearly a fifth of the working age population off sick.

BENEFIT TRAP

Scottish National Party candidate Lachie McNeill, who is fighting Labour for the Glasgow East seat, said generational unemployment meant huge numbers of people were suffering from depression.

"In the whole of Glasgow 40 percent of our children are being brought up in households where nobody is working and it is even worse in the east end," said McNeill.

His party wants to stop profits from Scottish oil going to London and instead use it to help pay for more social housing and better hospitals in areas like Glasgow’s east end.

But some Glaswegians say that however much money central government pours into local economies around the country, people are unwilling to seize new opportunities.

Alessio Gonnetta, 36, who runs the Happy Chippy takeaway in the east end said people in his area simply didn’t want to work.

"If Labour are going to give these people benefits why would they vote for anyone else," said the son of Italian immigrants.

Although Labour introduced a minimum wage, many Glaswegians described themselves as caught in a benefit trap where taking up work could prove more costly than it’s worth.

"I’m not interested in getting work because then I’d have to pay rent," says John Traynor, 37, an unemployed carpenter.

APATHY CHALLENGE

But construction is the area where Glasgow most lacks skilled workers, according to the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

"Some people choose not to participate," said chief executive Lesley Sawers. "We do have a number of kids who don’t go into further education, don’t go into training and don’t go into employment. These kids simply disappear."

Her group estimates a third of incapacity benefit claimants could be in work and filling new jobs in tourism and retail.

New jobs are something Labour’s Glasgow East candidate, David Marshall, is stressing as he visits voters and tries to boost turnout beyond a Scottish low of 46 percent seen in 2001.

Since 1997, Glasgow had added 50,000 jobs and thousands of new houses had been built as well as new health centres, said Marshall, 63, a Labour MP in Glasgow since 1979.

"I think there’s a vibrancy about the place whereas before 1997 there was a sort of hopelessness and despair. You could say there is optimism, buoyancy, vibrancy," he said.

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