Housing associations aim to make progress together on board-level diversity programme

TWO Northern housing associations are working with the Housing Diversity Network (HDN) on a pilot programme to widen diversity in the sector’s leadership.

Together Housing Group and Progress Housing Group (PHG) are pioneering Achieving and Harnessing Board Diversity, which aims to identify the next generation of potential talent from all walks of life and develop them into a pool of board-ready candidates.

“Board diversity is not about meeting quotas. It is about bringing together different experiences to best represent the communities we serve,” said Michelle Park, Together Housing’s board diversity champion.

“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 PHG, 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.”

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 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 of 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.”


Main Image: (Left to right, from back to front) Rebecca Simpson, Shazad Sarwar, Angela Gibbs, Amy Martinez, Adam Dennett, Katie Farr Hockley, Samantha Haslam and sat next to her is Luke Jno-Baptiste, Ahmed Makda and Shubash Miah


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