If we look back only 10 years to 2009, Gordon Brown was Prime Minister and the Equalities Act was about to become law. People tended to talk about LGB people, not including the T we’re now all used to. Civil Partnerships were in place for Lesbians and Gay Men but not equal marriage. In the workplace it was rare to find staff networks for any specific groups, including LGBT+ people.
Cressida Stanley-Williams, Service Development Manager – Community Services & Kevan Forde, Head of Innovation at Anchor Hanover
4 March 2019
Times have changed
Nowadays many housing organisations, particularly larger ones, have a range of staff networks. Their existence recognises the importance of hearing different voices in the workplace and ensuring that those voices contribute to policy development and service delivery. These networks give a voice to underrepresented groups within the workforce. They play an important role for modern employers.
What has HouseProud been up to?
As part of our roles at Anchor Hanover, we are both co-chairs of HouseProud.Our membership of over 200 people brings together colleagues from 60 housing organisations. Since 2014, we have been bringing groups together in this way because we want to make sure social housing is better for our LGBT+ colleagues and customers.
We aim to do that by:
- Offering a network for those coming from organisations where they don’t already exist.
- Engaging with both housing and diversity legislation, committing to improving the experience of LGBT+ customers.
- Sharing best practice within HouseProud and within our member organisations and look to support colleagues through mentoring and career development.
- Running events that focus on topics of relevance but which also offer the chance to network.
- Developing projects like our current major collaboration with the University of Surrey. This is a pledge for housing organisations to sign up to, to demonstrate that they are proactively LGBT+ friendly (look out for the launch later this year). This follows on from our significant piece of research ‘There’s No Place Like Home’.
We want to make a difference and make our voices heard. It’s great to see employers recognising the benefit that networks have to wider staff as well as us as LGBT+ people.
By having a more diverse workforce and giving that workforce the opportunity to be influential, organisations will attract better people and be more inclusive.
Looking back, a lot has changed for the better, but there’s still a long way to go
We’ve come a long way, but we know there’s still so much more we need to do. In the coming months, HouseProud are focusing specifically on LGBT+ homeless people and refugees. We want to bring attention to these issues through events.
The main thing we do at HouseProud is always to look ahead and recognise the power of staff networks to improve workplaces and service delivery. We recognise that it’s only by looking forward that we can make sure the progress that’s been made is built on and sustained.
If you would like to know more about the work of HouseProud, please get in touch with us via our website.