Hear from Irwell Valley Homes (IVH) CEO Sasha Deepwell, acting as Chair of the Diversity, Inclusion, Community Cohesion & Equalities (DICE) group of Greater Manchester Housing Providers, on a recent survey IVH ran and how they collated the outcomes into the DICE EDI baseline survey and report.

What was the aim of the survey and report?

Working together, Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) aim to eradicate discrimination and provide accessible services and opportunities for colleagues and customers. In 2020, we identified that we did not have baseline data relating to our strategies and action plans to tackle inequalities. Without this understanding of our starting point, we would have no measure of our progress and impact as we undertook initiatives and worked to challenge ourselves in this arena.

What did you do?

We undertook a survey of members to understand what work we were doing to tackle inequality within our organisations and collaboratively. We also looked specifically at how we’ve responded to inequalities which the pandemic has highlighted, and asked members to outline priorities for future joint working.

We asked all participants to answer our survey and gathered the results from the survey into the DICE Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) survey and report. All participants committed to sharing their results, so that we could show transparency and a desire to be honest about where we are now. The main findings of the report showed that we have a lot more to do in terms of both collecting data, and making use of the data to improve our performance on inequalities issues. The case studies in the report reflect the good work and intentions of the participants to address those inequalities. The data provides evidence of where there are gaps between intention and reality.

Who did you engage with?

We engaged with all 25 members of the GMHP and received responses from 23 of them, ranging from small specialist providers to large nationals, with the majority of respondents being medium sized regional housing associations and ALMOs. Between us we house one in five of all households in Greater Manchester, predominantly people on lower incomes, so any work we do to tackle inequalities has far reaching impact. The response was very encouraging and is reflected in the breadth of the report. Since producing the report, we have engaged with the Inequalities Commission set up by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and with The National Housing Federation EDI in Housing member group as well as with housing associations in other regions, and with Housing Diversity Network (HDN).

What was the impact?

The report has had a great impact in terms of ensuring that GMHP members sharpen their focus on tackling inequalities. It has been well received by members, who have adapted our methodology to run their own versions of this survey. This will allow us to gather a more comprehensive picture of the sector’s response to tackling inequalities.

We aim to run the survey again in 12-18 months to measure progress and ensure we hold ourselves accountable. We hope this will address concerns that EDI might slip from the top of the agenda. Our work will be featured at The National Housing Federation's National Housing Summit and has already provoked a number of meetings and round tables, including one with HDN. We are continuing to gather evidence and examples of progress from GMHP members, which we will share to strengthen our impact.

What barriers, challenges or points of learning did you identify?

Initially it was a struggle to engage with GMHP members, and extracting data was difficult as many of us held it in different formats or categories, and had different interpretations of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act. However, we were inspired to increase momentum when Black Lives Matter gained profile in the summer of 2020, and the desire of members to take action to support anti-racism.

As ever, when working to tackle inequalities, it is important to appreciate that instant results are unlikely and that we need to find sustainable ways of engaging with this agenda and inspiring each other to keep at it! Initially we had not included the case studies, but as we worked through the results of the survey, we realised that the report would be enhanced by including the action being taken to create a better future.

Get in touch with Sasha to find out more.

Who to speak to

Joe Waters, Public Affairs Manager