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Ellie Moston, Marketing Assistant Apprentice at Aspire Housing blogs about our latest Diverse Voices session.

Diverse Voices – Inclusive Leadership

In the newest webinar in the Diverse Voices series, PlaceShapers invited inspirational speakers to share their thoughts on Inclusive Leadership and their own experiences of being a leader in their workplace. This included insight into what staff may expect of them, their ways of communicating with others and how they tackle challenges/problems they come across in their role. 

As an apprentice myself, it was great to hear their stories on the path that they have taken to get to where they are today and hear lots of insight on the housing association from a leader perspective. I thought this webinar would be good to join as I have been following the Diverse Voices series and attending each as they are insightful and a lovely way to hear of the experiences the panellists have had in housing as I am developing my learning in my apprenticeship.

Chaired by Sandra Skeete, CEO of London-based Housing organisation Octavia, we are firstly talked through the background of Octavia and Sandra’s role as a Board Member for One Housing, which was kick-started by a Positive Action training scheme established in response to the lack of representation of black and minority ethnic staff in the sector.

Joining Sandra were Business Analyst Josh Hyland, who works for Trafford Housing Trust, and Interim Head of Communications Naomi Cohen from CHP Housing Association based in Essex.

Sandra Skeete spoke first, bringing a spotlight on the positive record Octavia have on diversity in the workplace: gender, sexuality, age, ethnicity. Being a leader, you are held accountable for the performance and outcomes of your team, must consider the opinions and viewpoints of your people and customers, keep engaged with the workforce, and keep staff informed with safe, daily communication. All these factors come together to describe the main basis of Inclusive Leadership. She shared her own experiences of racism to inform staff about the problems that may be faced which was met with an outpour of support and commitment from and for everyone.

Next up was Josh Hyland, who based his talk around neurodiversity at work, which is the idea that neurological variations are known and valued as any other human variations. Being diagnosed with dyspraxia in 2007, he wanted to focus on empathy in the workplace and the potential lack of understanding of disabilities at work and how this comes into the inclusive leadership shown. He put together a lovely presentation informing us about dyspraxia and its advantages and disadvantages, as well as using the metaphor of rocks on a beach which can represent the variations of the human mind, which I thought was a great way to represent this idea.

Last but not least, Naomi Cohen told a moving story about dealing with racism in her past as she and her family are Jewish. This shows her strength and compassion for her religion, saying how proud she is. Her focus was to talk about identifying how racism can impact people and therefore the importance of addressing it in the workplace, raising awareness and preventing it. Talking about being a leader, she states ‘if we are going to be part of a group who make change happen, we have to be prepared to step into the spotlight. Not just to talk about what we know, but also to review our own performance and to be open about that with others to be vulnerable’.  

These panellists are truly wonderful people who showed me what they have experienced both in their careers and personal lives. Their stories they decided to share showed me that you must be open and vulnerable as a leader in order to properly connect and communicate with the people in your workplace. Being new to the housing sector, this session was an amazing learning experience and has taught me a lot about being inclusive in leadership and the factors that bring this to be a positive thing.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way’ – John Maxwell

Ellie Moston, Marketing Assistant Apprentice at Aspire Housing

Ellie Moston

Ellie Moston
Marketing Assistant Apprentice at Aspire Housing

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