Every Board needs Experience

HDN Board Diversity

    Every Board needs Experience

     Take a look at any management team or board, in any sector or industry, public or private, and you’re more than likely to see a healthy smattering of PMS.

    Pale, male and stales have held an upper hand for centuries, and progress in producing opportunities for women and ethnic minority workers has been frustratingly slow; but this is not a conveyor belt of management potential where the young thrusting thinkers jump on, and a collection of white over-50s blokes drop off the other end.

    Talent appears in all shapes and sizes, success comes with hard work and experience grows with age.

    Here at the Housing Diversity Network we work hard to help organisations improve the diversity on their boards, to better represent the communities they face. Our Board Diversity Programme is designed to find the talent every association needs from the places recruiters have for too long ignored. We leave no stone unturned in pursuit of board potential and we’re working to adjust the cultural balance of management teams.

    Dave Procter chair of Together Housing Group says, in our upcoming podcast, that boards are no longer as stale as they were at the turn of the 21st century, but they are still predominantly male and pale. And our recent webinar on ‘How to get on board by 35’ sought to encourage younger workers to reach for posts, earlier than they had maybe planned, and to have confidence in their potential and ability to make a real and valuable contribution. And that, of course, requires HR professionals and older colleagues to find, encourage and nurture that talent and to shine a light on the stars of the very near future.

    But we are seeking an evolution not a revolution; we want a diverse board not a young board, because while lived experience brings life and balance to any discussion there is no replacement for decades of on-the-job experience, and those who have stuck around a while invariably have a balanced view.

    There has been disproportionate unemployment of older workers during the last 18 months and, as the UK emerges, cautiously, from the pandemic, the economy can ill afford to lose this skill and experience. And in the public and voluntary sectors too, we would be foolish to dismiss the elders too quickly, when they are stale they’ll probably go anyway!

    Covid hit the Over 50s hard

    While the very young people in the workforce suffered the most in terms of job loss and unemployment, during the pandemic, the over 50s were next in that unwelcome line. Before the outbreak of COVID this group was at an all time high in the workplace, but the virus has changed all that, as the over 50s suffered the biggest annual unemployment fall in four decades. A report from the Resolution Foundation found that work for over 50s dropped by 1.4 per cent since the start of the pandemic, double the drop seen among the 25 to 49s, while the youngest saw a higher fall of 3.9 per cent.

    Older workers also take the longest to return to work after a period of unemployment. Six months after unemployment just 62 per cent of over 50s have returned to work, compared to 74 per cent of under 30s and 72 per cent of 30 to 49 year olds.

    The report also found that the gap between those who had choices, such as when and where to work and when to retire, and those with less control, in less secure jobs, is widening.


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