Together Housing Group / Fresh eyes on the Board

We found we had a lack of diversity within our governance structures - specifically on our Board - of which only twi were women and we had no BAME or young representation. 

Who did you engage with?

We engaged with Housing Diversity Network and employed a strategic Equality and Diversity Manager (E&D Manager) to implement change.

What did you do?

The E&D Manager had a free hand to use more inclusive wording on our advert for the job roles and application pack. He used his considerable network of contacts to promote the opportunity and made himself available for what turned out to be numerous enquiries, mainly checking that this initiative was not ‘tick boxing’.

By using more inclusive wording, we got 38 applicants, half from diverse groups but meaning that 50% were white males who were not excluded.

Shortlisting took place very late in the process to give as many applicants the best chance to shine; recognising that many were not used to this type of recruitment process. This allowed some people to ‘come out of their shells.’ This helped at least two young Muslim women who were initially quiet but gained confidence to proceed in the process.

Rather than major on ‘hard’ skills, more weight was given to softer, emotional intelligence and what applicants could bring to the organisation to help us diversify our thinking.

An innovative assessment day resulted in six successful candidates: half were BAME, four were women and two were under 30.

All six are on a two year formal training, mentoring and coaching programme, CIPD recognised, run by HDN, including important resilience building plus mock board meetings and real life board and committee observations.

What was the impact?

It is clear already that two of the candidates are Board-ready and able to apply from a position of strength when vacancies occur in the next 12 months. The remainder are well on the way to becoming future Board members once they have completed their two year course. Already, the current Board is having diversity related discussions at almost every meeting since this programme was instigated. The new members, if and when they join, will no doubt accelerate that progress.

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

Very few. We're committed to doing things differently and had found success by doing so.

Who to speak to

Joe Waters, Public Affairs Manager