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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Leading diversity, making it happen

11/01/2017


Diversity remains an issue in housing and at senior levels the sector remains pale, male and stale. So how can executives lead diversity from the top? Kate Dodsworth, executive director of people and strategy at Amicus Horizon and chair of our London board, will explore this in detail at our executive briefing on 16 January. We spoke to Kate ahead of the event to find out more.

Image of house made of blocksWhy does diversity matter so much in housing?  

It matters hugely, not least because we work in and represent diverse communities. Housing providers do great work in their communities to promote diversity and rightly pat themselves on the back for it, yet there is often a real disconnect with how they do it in their own organisation.

The two should really go hand in hand. If we really want to do great work in our communities then we should be much more representative of those communities.

What is the biggest challenge facing the sector from a diversity point of view?
We need to do more to encourage diversity across the board but I think if you look at the profile of senior level housing professionals you see where the real challenge lies. The proportion of women, black and minority ethnic, LGBT and disabled people in senior positions is not matched in senior roles so there is clearly a real progression issue. 

How do you think the sector needs to respond?
There are three key things. The first is to acknowledge the problem, the second is quantify it and the third is solve it. Of course that’s easier said than done but the key point here is that this is an issue that has to be dealt with from the top. 
There has been too much passing of the buck to HR departments when this is an issue that you will only solve if your executive team and your board buy into it.
At Amicus Horizon we acknowledged we had an issue with diversity – particularly on our board – and we’ve introduced a target that 75% of our board members and committee members are women or from the BME or disabled communities.
Then there are other ways of promoting diversity across your organisation and in your communities. 
It’s important to realise this doesn’t happen overnight and it takes years for a successful approach to diversity to really bed in. That’s why it’s so important it starts now. 
I’ll go into more detail on this at the briefing but the key point is leading diversity must be exactly that - it must be done from the top.

What can attendees to the executive briefing expect?
This event is aimed at senior professionals who want to develop their organisational approach to leadership and diversity and the business benefits to embracing diverse culture. People can expect a lively discussion which will challenge their thinking on how they can lead diversity in their organisation.

What is the biggest challenge facing the sector from a diversity point of view?

We need to do more to encourage diversity across the board but I think if you look at the profile of senior level housing professionals you see where the real challenge lies. The proportion of women, black and minority ethnic, LGBT and disabled people in senior positions is not matched in senior roles so there is clearly a real progression issue.

How do you think the sector needs to respond?

There are three key things. The first is to acknowledge the problem, the second is quantify it and the third is solve it. Of course that’s easier said than done but the key point here is that this is an issue that has to be dealt with from the top.

There has been too much passing of the buck to HR departments when this is an issue that you will only solve if your executive team and your board buy into it.

At Amicus Horizon we acknowledged we had an issue with diversity – particularly on our board – and we’ve introduced a target that 75% of our board members and committee members are women or from the BME or disabled communities.

Then there are other ways of promoting diversity across your organisation and in your communities.

It’s important to realise this doesn’t happen overnight and it takes years for a successful approach to diversity to really bed in. That’s why it’s so important it starts now.

I’ll go into more detail on this at the briefing but the key point is leading diversity must be exactly that - it must be done from the top.

What can attendees to the executive briefing expect?

This event is aimed at senior professionals who want to develop their organisational approach to leadership and diversity and the business benefits to embracing diverse culture. People can expect a lively discussion which will challenge their thinking on how they can lead diversity in their organisation.

Find out more

Get involved

We’re urging the housing sector and its tremendous employees to get involved and nominate the extraordinary work being carried out within the industry surrounding equality, diversity and inclusion. It is important that we highlight the positive contributions from the world of housing, because regardless of your background, everyone should have the same chance to pursue their goals and have equal access to social housing. Nominations are completely free and can be put forward via The Excellence in Diversity Awards.

Find out the award categories


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