The chairman of the Housing Corporation has conceded that staff from ethnic minorities often lose out in the race for promotion but strongly denied this is because of institutional racism.

Questioned about the paucity of black and ethnic minority staff in senior positions, chairman Baroness Dean said last week: “There is a glass ceiling, I don’t mind saying that, but it’s one we’re going to break through.” Dean’s admission comes after broadcaster and London mayoral candidate Trevor Phillips claimed that the corporation was guilty of a form of corporate racism.

Dean came under fire again over the same issue at a corporation conference on race and housing when delegate Stephen Bawa, chief executive of the Odu-Dua Housing Association, criticised the white-dominated conference panel and leadership of the corporation.

In reply, Dean said: “We are trying, not hard enough, but I cannot agree with all the statements you made. You are not right about it being a deliberate policy.” Dean said the organisation was considering seconding black and ethnic minority staff from housing associations and the housing sector into senior positions at the corporation to tackle the question.