Lara Oyedele to challenge lack of ethnic and racial diversity with CIH presidential campaign
New Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) president Lara Oyedele has unveiled more about her presidential campaign which seeks to raise awareness of the importance of racial diversity within the leadership of the housing sector.
Drawing on Lara’s lived experience as a black woman in the housing sector, the In my shoes campaign will challenge the lack of ethnic and racial diversity in the boardrooms of housing organisations, providing a catalyst to galvanise positive change.
Taking up the role of president at the CIH AGM last week, Lara Oyedele said: “I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to represent the profession I love so much. I have big aspirations and I know I have a tough job ahead following in president Jo Richardson’s amazing footsteps. Her Homeful campaign is incredibly inspirational.
“It’s my motivation to inspire change and champion the importance of racial and ethnic diversity in the housing sector, especially in our boardrooms. We all know more needs to be done in this space and I want to work with CIH, its members, and the wider sector to highlight why it’s important to create a fair and inclusive environment where every individual feels confident not only that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional harm but also that they and their life experiences will be valued.
“I’ve been a member of CIH since I was a student in 1995 and I’m truly honoured to be able to serve the CIH membership over the next year. I also want this campaign to provide motivation to younger staff. I want them to see that they can realistically aspire to board level leadership within the housing sector irrespective of their race.“
Lara will use the platform of her presidency to talk about the benefits and importance of diversity and be the embodiment of a visible champion. Creating a momentum where racial and ethnic diversity are consistently on the agenda as well as encouraging the dynamic and varied talent in the sector.
The campaign will amplify conversations and awareness via:
- A blog series called ‘in my shoes’ raising awareness of ethnic diversity in the boardroom through sharing lived experiences
- A library of resources highlighting research into board room diversity in addition to good practice and guidance pertaining to diverse recruitment
- Collation of tips, ideas, and opportunities for CIH members to enhance their understanding of how to be an advocate for diversity in leadership teams and in the boardroom of their housing organisations
- A call to members asking them to complete the CIH EDI census, launching later this year. This census will provide a snapshot of members’ demographics and provide CIH with the ability to be truly accountable to members.
Gavin Smart, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, added: “As housing professionals and organisations, we know that by collaborating across the sector we can learn from each other, to inspire, innovate, and evolve to make the sector stronger.
“Lara’s presidential campaign, In my shoes, provides an opportunity to highlight good practice, creating a deeper understanding and awareness of the importance of racial and ethnic diversity in the work we do. The campaign will enable us to work together to ensure we are an inclusive and equitable sector, representative of all professionals and the tenants and communities we serve.”
The campaign will run for the tenure of Lara’s presidency, from October 2022 to the end of September 2023. During this time Lara will be fundraising for her chosen presidential charity, Shoe Aid.
Shoe Aid work with some of the largest organisations in the UK to reduce footwear poverty, footwear waste, and its impact on the environment. Shoe Aid resonates with Lara’s lived experience of homelessness as a young woman, as well as her love of shoes.
With donation points at events over the next year, members will be encouraged to look in their wardrobes and find a pair of shoes to donate. This will create an interactive and equitable method for charitable donations that will provide vital resources to families and individuals in need, especially during this period of serious cost of living crisis.
In my shoes will run throughout Lara’s time in office.