HDN heralds new approach to harness board diversity in the housing sector

A Housing Diversity Network (HDN) programme to improve board diversity through targeted role search and retention techniques has been judged a major success.

HDN’s interim report highlights the positive outcomes of the first year of Advancing and Harnessing Board Diversity programme piloted with two northern housing associations – Progress Housing Group and Together Housing Group.

The programme adopts a new approach to improving board diversity through creative recruitment of a cohort of potential board members from diverse backgrounds. This cohort then undergoes a two-year training and development programme so that they are in a position to be able to apply for board vacancies in future.

Both participating organisations and the cohort of eleven potential board members have been delighted with the way that the scheme has worked so far. Boards have been introduced to prospective new members who have strengthened their knowledge and expertise and are now in a better position to apply for vacancies. Three have already taken up Board positions.

The following positives are highlighted in the report:

  • The programme is a meaningful 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.

To access the full report click here

Existing boards are now showing a new energy and challenge in ensuring that their equality, diversity and inclusion objectives were taken forward.

Mushtaq Khan, Northern Lead for HDN said ‘This programme is really about levelling the playing field so that potential recruits to boards can 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 first cohort of prospective board members pictured with Yvonne Davies (front row second left) from HDN and Mick Warner, Deputy Director, Regulator of Social Housing, programme speaker – front row, first left)

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