08 Dec 2020

Equality and diversity – statement from CIH chief executive, Gavin Smart

At the heart of being a housing professional is serving people, meeting their needs. And to do that we as housing professionals and members of CIH need to understand the people and communities we serve.

Everyone who lives in our communities is an individual, with individual needs, desires and dreams – and also individual life experiences. These experiences will be informed by the culture in which we grew up; our gender, age, religion and sexuality; and how the limitations of our bodies – mental and physical – impact on the way we live our lives.

Treating people equally, valuing their diversity and making sure they’re included in our community is a vital part of being a housing professional.

And this goes way beyond the characteristics protected by law. It’s about valuing and using the full breadth and depth of experience of every individual. Just as we bring valuable insights from our cultural or religious backgrounds or sexual identification, so we can draw on our different education and work experiences, as well as the way we learn and communicate.

After all, the evidence is clear: teams, organisations and communities with a diverse membership and that draw on the full diversity of their members’ life-experiences are more innovative, make better decisions and adapt better and faster to challenge and provide a better response to the full range of those they serve. And they’re happier!

That is why at CIH we are fully committed to improving equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in our organisation, throughout our membership and across the housing sector.

It’s important to us that we create a fair and inclusive environment where every individual feels confident not only that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional harm but also that they and their life experiences will be valued. 

What is CIH doing? 

We are continually looking for ways to make sure equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our culture and our success, constantly looking for ways we can improve and make a positive difference.

  • We have formed an internal EDI group made up of individuals from various backgrounds and departments across the organisation to drive positive change within CIH and throughout our work.
  • We recently held an internal staff conference with external speakers to raise awareness of racial inequalities.
  • We are now members of the Housing Diversity Network which gives us access to online self-assessment tools, webinars, video and audio resources and a host of other benefits.
  • We are working with Tai Pawb in Wales on the Deeds not Words pledge around EDI which is challenging organisations to make real their commitment EDI.
  • We are working with Karl George to see whether we can adopt the race equality code which does a similar thing. Karl has been in conversations with NHF and housing associations on this.
  • We are actively working with other professional bodies as part of PARN, learning from their experiences and sharing good practice.
  • We developed a new Welsh Language scheme, launched last year, and set up a bilingual service on our new website; and we’re building up our library of bilingual content all the time.

What’s next? 

  • We are committed to continuing to promote a variety of cultures and diversity across the housing sector in everything we do.
  • We will offer online training for all CIH colleagues as we continue to work towards Diversity 2020.
  • We will collaborate with other housing organisations to learn more about great practice already in place - and then implement that at home and spread the word abroad.
  • We will continually challenge everything that we do are working to ensure that all aspects of our work are inclusive, including the work with our member steering group to drive professional standards across the sector.

As our work progresses, we will challenge ourselves and the sector to ensure the reality of equality, diversity and inclusion is embraced by every member, colleague and stakeholder we work with. Work with us; teach us; and together we can build on the rich diversity of every individual in housing to make a better life and community for everyone.

If you would like to get in touch with us to discuss, please email: membership@cih.org.