G15 Ethnicity in Housing Awards - Meet the winner, Marie Victoire

At the inaugural G15 Ethnicity in Housing Awards on 11 May 2022, Hyde Housing’s Marie Victoire walked away with the Future Leader Award. We caught up with Marie a few days after the ceremony to see how she was feeling.

Congratulations on your award. How did it feel to hear your name read out as the winner?

“I don’t think I can put into words the feeling. It was the biggest shock, and I was so overwhelmed. It was like a real dream moment. Did they really say my name? Is that what everyone things of me? It was definitely the biggest career highlight so far. I felt so empowered and special. I sometimes feel that maybe people think ‘she’s too loud' or talks too much, and I sometimes worry the discussions I have aren’t the ones that other people want to have. It felt out of this world.”

Can you tell us a little bit about the work you do at Hyde Housing?

“I am an Academy Builder for our Digital Programme, working on a new system that will replace all our internal systems. Right now, I am setting up a sub-contractor portal to ensure colleagues are using it correctly, and so when people raise jobs it doesn’t glitch. Although I found out yesterday that I got a new job as a Building Safety records officer.

“I am also part of the Embrace group - highlighting Black History Month, cultural awareness days, and giving everyone a better insight on different cultures. We’re also getting together to look at disrepair and over representation of minority ethnic residents in cases. I’ve recently been doing some sessions on British Sign Language, and I am part of the diverse interview panel pool that Hyde has created to sit in on interviews to ensure new recruitment policies are being followed. I am also part of the disability group at work, which is something I am very passionate about as my son is autistic and I absolutely believe that no one should be judged by their disability, whether it’s visible or non-visible.”

You're our first ever winner of the Future Leader Award - what do you think makes a good leader?

“I think a good leader would be empathetic, understanding, compassionate, and I am very much of the belief that you have to be a team player to be a leader. You have to make sure that you are clued-up with the way the world and people are changing. There are different learning styles, and we now have different pronouns. This wasn’t so obvious 10 years ago. It’s all about being equal and fair and making sure no one is left behind. One of my previous managers was one of the best leaders. You have to have a human side too. It’s a job we’re all doing together, so we need to get on. Too many managers have a work persona and don’t let their human side out, and doing so can make the world of a difference.”

When nominating you, your colleagues said that you've done phenomenal work to promote diversity and inclusion. Where does your motivation to do such work come from?

"I think it was my upbringing. My parents both moved to England in the 70s. My mum is quite a timid person and I saw the challenges she faced. It’s also part of me being bullied at school, which meant I had a really poor sense of self-esteem. The older I got, I told myself I will never let anyone go through what I did. I tell my daughter she needs to be inclusive. It bothers me when I see it happening to other people. Higher up in organisations it is very stereotypical, and the diversity isn't there and it needs to change as we're not included. I want to be everyone's voice and help everyone to feel that they aren’t forgotten, and we can do this together."

What do you think are the most critical things organisations and colleagues can be doing to include and support minority ethnic colleagues?

“Honestly, I believe that Hyde and other organisations have so many talented staff that are from minority ethnic backgrounds, and they need to promote them. People need to put time into developing them and helping them get into senior positions. I think that it is really bad that they are overlooked a lot of the time. Organisations can't just say they are diverse and inclusive, you need to show us. It's easy to say ‘we believe in diversity and inclusion’, but if you aren't putting it into action, the words are false. I don't agree with the structure at the moment and it would be nice to see change, rather than waiting for things to happen.”

These were the first G15 Ethnicity in Housing Awards, so what would be your message to anyone thinking of nominating a colleague for next year's awards?

“Oh my god do it. Just do it. It's the most precious way to say to someone you are recognised for the work you do, and we appreciate you, and you are valued. Even if I didn't win, the nomination alone gave me a boost to do even better. It's always nice to make people feel good.

“I encourage anybody who hasn't got the voice or the support to find someone, in or out of their organisation, to see how they can get things going if they don't think something is right. Don't suffer in silence. The awards were amazing, and it was so lovely to connect with people. As much as I appreciate the awards and they are a great thing, I am praying for the day when we don't need separate awards and the work we do can be recognised alongside all colleagues.”

Finally, where is your award being displayed now?

“It’s in my bedroom, next to my Aladdin genie lamp!”