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Housing has the key to unlock potential

Housing has the key to unlock potential

Two of the North’s leading housing associations have teamed up with Housing Diversity Network to unlock the potential of future leaders by championing diversity. 

We have joined Progress Housing Group to pioneer Achieving and Harnessing Board Diversity, a pilot programme which aims to identify the next generation of influencers from all walks of life and develop them into candidates for a board-ready talent pool. 

A recent survey revealed that although the affordable housing sector is more culturally diverse than many other sectors, there is still much to be done to represent tenants and our society on governing boards.

Trainee NEDs

Research* has revealed that people from BME backgrounds and women remain under-represented at the most senior levels:

  • Just over a third of Chief Executives (34%) are female with women making up 39% of executives and 36% of board members;
  • 6.8% of board members / 4.5% of executives identify as BME.

 Michelle Park, Together Housing Group Board Diversity Champion, said: “Board diversity is not about meeting quotas. It is about bringing together different experiences to best represent the communities we serve.

“Numerous studies have shown that boards that include talent from all walks of life can benefit greatly from the insight and creativity generated by that diversity and also improve their business performance.”

Jacqui De-Rose, Group Chief Executive of Progress Housing Group, of Progress Housing Group, added: “It stands to reason that inclusive organisations consistently perform better. Diverse businesses are able to attract people from the widest pool of talent, and employees who are free to be themselves are happier, more authentic and more productive.

“Having a wide range of perspectives represented in the boardroom is critical to effective governance. Being able to draw upon a diverse set of skills and knowledge is essential for boards to address the complex issues our organisations face.”

The Achieving and Harnessing Board Diversity programme seeks to invigorate diverse thinking and decision-making on boards and committees through the authentic contribution of diverse individuals. It does this by a holistic approach, which both challenges and supports, through:

  • Preparing with Board and Senior Team for the business to receive and maximise the opportunities of a more diverse board;
  • Searching for and supporting selection of diverse board members (particularly in terms of ethnicity and age/younger members);
  • Inducting and training new recruits, including exposure to other boards and access to the HDN Board Excellence programme;
  • Support mentoring, coaching and training to ensure retention and a great contribution from new recruits, over a period of 2-3 years. 

Progress Housing Group (PHG) recently recruited five trainee board members for its programme, and Together Housing has recruited six candidates.

Rebecca Simpson, from Halifax, is a Policy Officer for a West Yorkshire housing association and is currently seconded to a role in Homes for the North. She was a finalist in 24 Housing’s Young Leaders competition.

She said of her appointment as a trainee board member for Together Housing: “I have applied for a couple of other board positions but was told I didn’t quite have the experience so it is great to be given the opportunity to become board ready via this programme. I am hoping to learn more about governance of housing associations, to be more strategic, to have decision making capacity and to impact the lives of people in the community I’m from.”

Fellow Together Housing trainee board member Shubash Miah, from Rochdale, works for Manchester City Council in the city’s Community Safety Team. She added: “I am looking forward to learning how strategic direction is translated into operational delivery. This opportunity will give me more of a holistic view of housing.”

Solicitor, Shruti Brockett is one of PHG’s new trainee board members and said about the scheme: “The programme is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to be part of a forward-thinking organisation, like Progress Housing Group, whose main driver is to make a positive social impact.

“The traineeship will enable me to share my skills and knowledge and provide a safe space in which to learn new business skills. The extensive coaching and mentoring programme is really valuable and will help me to broaden my skill set and develop in a way that is best suited to me. I really enjoyed meeting PHG board and members of the Senior Management Team recently and I am looking forward to working with such an inclusive, motivated and friendly team.”

HDN welcomes all housing organisations to join this pilot – please contact Carla Olfin: or 01484 652606.

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