The Pathway to Board programme is a short programme that gives people the knowledge and skills to participate on any Board. The programme is specifically aimed at Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, supporting them to be Board ready.
The programme was launched in March 2022 by representatives from CCHA, Taff, Linc Cymru, Cadwyn and Hafod housing associations.
Cardiff housing associations come together to address lack of Board diversity
In 2022, five housing associations from across Cardiff came together to launch the Pathway to Board initiative supporting Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals to join a Board.
The programme came about after representatives from Taff, CCHA, Linc Cymru, Cadwyn and Hafod housing associations noticed the lack of diversity within their Boards. This partnership addresses the lack of ethnic diversity on Boards in and outside of the housing sector in Wales.
Following a successful first round, which saw 12 participants secure positions on a Board, the Pathway to Board programme is returning for a second year and is now open to applicants.
Anuja Ramachandran was one of the first people to join the programme when it was launched. Anuja said: “The programme is one of its kind and after knowing more about it I felt this could be something with a lot of prospects that could help me reach levels that would take longer on my own. Skills of a board member are something people acquire with experience. The programme is one that could fill the gap in my experience through structured mentoring.”
Anuja has now become the first member of the cohort to be appointed to a Board as she joins Cynon Taf Community Housing Group as Non-Executive Director.
Speaking of her appointment, Anuja said: “I have received this unbelievable opportunity to join the board of the reputable Cynon Taf Community Housing Group. This is a milestone in my career, and I intend to live up to it by serving the housing community. Given the support from Pathway to Board and the warm welcome from Cynon Taf, I am excited to be the voice representing the welfare of our tenants.”
Joy Kent, Chair of Cynon Taf Community Housing Group said: “We’re really pleased that Anuja has joined the board. We truly believe that having a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience around the table underpins good governance. I think Anuja will be a great board member. She not only brings professional skills that we had identified we wanted to strengthen in this recruitment round, but she also broadens the mix of experience and perspective around the table – and I’m sure we’re going to benefit from her youthful enthusiasm too!”
The Pathway to Board project is a continuous professional development opportunity designed to better equip individuals from minority ethnic communities who want to contribute to the leadership of an organisation, particularly the housing sector. The aim of the project is to provide both practical and theoretical perspective through training in the classroom and observation of board meetings. Successful individuals have the opportunity to influence and change how organisations make decisions that affect the community and will hopefully be part of a movement to change the face of leadership across Wales.
The project, which is funded by the founding partners, is also supported by partner organisations including Tai Pawb and Race Council Cymru. Organisations including Mazars, Centrus, Acorn, Darwin Gray, Goodson Thomas, Blake Morgan, and Welsh Refugee Council, have once again committed their time and expertise to making the project a success.
Pathway to Board Project Manager, Afshan Iqbal said:
“I’m looking forward to welcoming a new cohort and working with them to secure Board positions. Their contribution will influence the way decisions are made in the Board room across the housing sector and beyond.”
Hayley Selway, Chief Executive of CCHA said:
“As an association with 30% ethnically diverse tenants, we recognised that our Board needed to reflect the community it served. We are delighted that we are able to offer the programme for another year.”
If you would like to take part in this project, or you represent an organisation that would like to be involved, please contact the Project Leader, Afshan Iqbal by emailing Afshan.Iqbal@CCHA.org.uk
Tobi Owolabi found out about the Pathway to Board programme during a talk given to her housing studies class and decided to apply. After she completed the programme, she was appointed to the board at CCHA. Here’s what she had to say:
“I am currently a final year housing studies student at Cardiff Met, so when Abdi Segulle, the Pathway to Board lead, came to give a talk to my class about the housing industry and mentioned the programme, it felt like a no-brainer to apply.
“The program had already started at the time, but we were encouraged to apply for the next round. I sent Abdi an email after the class anyway and expressed my interest. Luckily for me, a couple of cohorts couldn’t continue so two spots became available, and I secured one!
“My aim has always been to broaden my horizon by learning as much as possible so I always sign up for any training program that would help me grow. I also believe that I am in the housing industry to make a difference and so I felt that this was a good opportunity to get in and do something.
“The application process was very easy. I sent my CV to Abdi, and we had a 1:1 chat shortly after, where he explained the set up and what to expect and then he added me to the group. We got calendar invites and reminders for the meetings and there were follow up emails. The training sessions were delivered well, and we had the opportunity to ask questions.
“My biggest take-away from the whole process has been my mentor. I was paired with an amazing person that was and is still interested in my growth. They would take their time to answer all my questions, give pep talks to boost my confidence and give tips about what it’s like being a board member and the housing industry in general. They encouraged me to apply for board roles and we had a couple of mock interviews before I had the interview for the role at CCHA and I believe that all of that and their encouragement is why I got the role.
“The other huge benefit of the programme was the opportunity to attend a couple of board meetings at the housing association that I was assigned with. They made me feel like I was a part of the team and treated me with respect. I got sent all the board papers and they answered all my questions. Everyone was so helpful and gave me tips on what it’s like to be a board member which helped a lot as there was quite a lot of information that I picked up along the way.
“For anyone considering applying for the next round of Pathway to Board, I would say just go for it. I didn’t apply for the sole purpose of becoming a board member. I applied to broaden my knowledge of the housing sector and just to learn as much as I can.
“The training provided covers more than just housing too. I learnt about management, finance, leadership, economics, risks in business, etc. It also helps boost your confidence and if you’re a dreamer like me who knows they can make a difference and dreams of opportunities to do so, this is for you because this is one way to make a difference. This is your chance to make a difference. If you can be a part of something, this is it.”
Reham Bassal joined the Pathway to Board programme in January 2022 after being approached by the programme manager, Abdi Seguelle, who explained the process and the reasons behind the project and persuaded her to sign up. Since completing the programme, Reham has joined the Board at WCVA. Here’s what she had to say about the programme:
“The programme is certainly a step in the right direction to diversify boards and improve the representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds to serve our communities. As a person from an ethnic minority background, I wanted the opportunity to bring in a new perspective and improve the decision making and challenge potential biases. The Pathway to Board programme was explained well to me in the first instance and seemed like a good fit for my future ambitions.
“I was supported throughout the process. The pace of the sessions was just right, getting through the right amount of information without being overwhelming. My mentor, Jonathan Morgan, the Chair of the Hendre board at Hafod, provided me with all the information I needed along the way. I also felt that the input to the programme from the housing sector represented a sincere desire to make changes and diversify the composition of boards in Wales, and I learned a lot about the sector from my mentor and others.
“Having the opportunity to sit in on board meetings and to observe before deciding if applying was for me was a key part of the process. It helped tremendously to see the practical side of the board process and helped me envision where I might be able to fit in. I was also able to ask questions and the willingness of everyone to help and support really stood out.
“For anyone considering whether they should apply, I’d say do it! Ultimately, change starts with all of us and sometimes unless we see people like us in roles and positions where we can add value, it can be hard to take the first step and go for it. Having been on Pathway to Board and having joined the board of WCVA as a result, I have grown in confidence immeasurably and I am making valuable contributions now as a board member. It can take time and finding the right board position that is a good fit for you involves some decision-making, but the Pathway to Board process is a real guide towards doing that.”
Representatives from CCHA, Taff, Linc Cymru, Cadwyn and Hafod housing associations, recognised that their Boards were not diverse enough, and that when they took positive action to address the issue, the interest was overwhelming. They found that people underrepresented in terms of their ethnicity did want to be part of Board structures but many had little or no Board experience and would need a little support to be Board ready. The Pathway to Board programme is a continuous professional development opportunity designed to better equip individuals from minority ethnic communities who want to contribute to the leadership of an organisation, particularly the housing sector.
Board diversity can lead to more effective risk management, good governance, better alignment with customers, trading partners, employees, wider communities, and a more innovative, corporate culture.
Throughout the programme, Pathway to Board participants complete a number of key training modules delivered by industry experts including:
- Internal and external assurance
- Treasury management
- Leadership skills
Our mentors are on hand to guide and support the participants through the programme. They are provided with opportunities to observe real board meetings to learn and experience what it’s like to be a board member.
Yes! During the programme, each participant completes a profile which outlines which type of organisation they would like to sit on the board of. We can use this information to help match them to a suitable organisation who are looking to recruit. Once a match is found, and the participant has completed the programme, we can help to make arrangements for you to interview them.
We are always open to new opportunities to partner with other organisations. If you think you can support by providing mentors, opportunities for programme participants to observe board meetings, or offer training on what it’s like to be a board member, please get in touch with Afshan Iqbal.
- Cardiff Community Housing Association (Lead)
- Taff Housing
- Cadwyn Housing Association
- Linc Cymru
- Hafod Housing
The project, which is being funded by the founding partners, is also being supported by partner organisations including Tai Pawb and Race Council Cymru. Organisations including Mazars, Centrus, Acorn, Hugh James, Darwin Gray, Goodson Thomas, Blake Morgan, Academi Wales, and Welsh Refugee Council, have also committed their time and expertise to making the project a success.
If you are interested in your organisation becoming involved in Pathway to Board, or you would like to find out more about taking part in the programme yourself, please get in touch with our Senior Project Officer, Afshan Iqbal.
Phone: 07929 656 170
You can also follow us on Twitter: @PathwayToBoard
Register your interest
If you are interested in taking part in the Pathway to Board programme, please register your interest here.