An interim report has highlighted the successes of a Together Housing diversity project and calls the programme a “new pathway and enabler for board diversity”.
The Achieving and Harnessing Board Diversity programme was pioneered by Together Housing Group and Progress Housing Group in partnership with Housing Diversity Network. The report highlighted the success of the programme in creating a new approach to improving board diversity through creative recruitment of potential board members from diverse backgrounds.
Participants of the project undergo a two-year training and development programme, so they have the skills to apply for board vacancies in the future. Through the project, boards have been introduced to prospective new members who have strengthened their knowledge and expertise. These prospective new members are now in a better position to apply for vacancies. Three have already taken up board positions.
Existing boards are now showing a new energy and challenge in ensuring that their equality, diversity and inclusion objectives were taken forward.
The following positives are highlighted in the report:
- A new pathway and enabler for board diversity;
- The opportunity to trial a different form for recruitment without bias, including the advertising, information provision and selection processes has enabled the recruitment of potential board members from a range of backgrounds;
- Follow-up support to the cohort once appointed has been crucial including one-to-one meetings, meeting as a group as well as regular exposure to others board members and to other boards;
- Board shadowing, observation, stock tours, joining Board awaydays and training sessions and coaching have meant that potential board members have been able to gain better knowledge of the sector and been able to reflect on meetings.
- Board and staff members in the organisations have benefited from new thinking on recruitment, selection, external support and challenge.
Michelle Park, Together Housing Group Board Diversity Champion, said: “We are really pleased with the success of this project in contributing to more diverse boards in its first year.
“This project has taken the first steps towards knocking down the barriers against board diversity through this new creative approach. I am looking forward to seeing the success of this programme grow as it continues to find new, talented and diverse prospective board members.”
Mushtaq Khan, Norther Lead for HDN said: “This programme is really about levelling the playing field so that potential recruits to boards and gain better knowledge and be part of new networks. We know that increasing board diversity makes business sense and there is much in this approach to achieve diversity of thought on boards, for other landlords to learn from.
“Board diversity doesn’t happen overnight; it has to be worked on and potential board members be given the tools to succeed and harness authentic contributions.”
The success of the programme has already been seen with it being highly commended in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team of the Year category of the Housing Heroes Awards. As well as this, it has been shortlisted in the Most Innovative, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative category in the National Centre for Diversity Grand Awards 2020.
An executive summary of the report is available here.