Chairs' Challenge: A vision for change
Inclusive Recruitment Toolkit
Succession planning for inclusion
Case study

Roadmap to equality: an inclusive future

A set of resources for boards to drive equality, diversity and inclusion, developed in partnership with Altair. 

We believe that diverse, inclusive workforces where staff feel empowered to bring their whole selves to work, leads to better governance. Addressing inequality is also simply the right thing to do. 

In 2020 we released the first ever national picture of equality, diversity and inclusion of housing association workforces across England and the results showed we have significant work to do to ensure board members represent the people living within our communities. We know it’s important that this representation includes different ways of thinking and different experiences as well as measurable demographics.

Our 2020 Code of Governance places a renewed focus on board members taking leadership for their organisations’ work on equality, diversity and inclusion.

To support housing association boards in this mission, in 2021 we launched a work stream with a group of 20 board members. Together we identified and prioritised key problems the sector faces in creating diverse and inclusive boards, then worked to develop responses to those problems.

We know that this alone won’t solve the incredibly complicated, systemic and cultural challenges that exist. However, alongside our other work we hope that it can provide a solid foundation to create lasting change. As part of our wider efforts supporting the sector to become more equal, diverse and inclusive, we are publishing a range of resources:

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, says:

“Equality, diversity and inclusion are vitally important to housing associations’ work and mission. At the NHF, we want all our members to become more representative of the populations they serve.

“It’s a powerful thing to see someone like yourself in a position of seniority; to know that the people making decisions about your housing include perspectives and experiences like yours. Diversity makes us stronger and difference on the board leads to robust challenge, fresh ideas and energizing discussions. 

“Cultivating a culture of inclusion also ensures that our boards are resilient. Staff who feel as though they belong, and that they can bring their full selves to work, are more able to spot risks and provide excellent governance.

“Together, as a sector, we can and must make change happen. We hope that you find these resources helpful on your journey to creating more inclusive workplaces."

Jenny Brown, Chair of Longhurst Group and Director of Altair, says:

“We’ve been having the conversation about inclusivity in the sector for such a long time; building the right culture is critical for boards to be properly effective. Inclusivity requires us to shift our mind-set, exposing and challenging our beliefs and biases both individually and collectively. Policies and procedures alone will not make the difference; we need a long-term approach to facilitate changing behaviours and ways of thinking that’s supported by the right tools.

“These practical resources aim to support housing association boards to rethink recruitment processes; explore new forms of succession planning; and publicly commit to creating a vision for inclusion and belonging. We invite you to use these to help create and meet your ambitions around EDI.

“The tools are just the start of what will hopefully be a sustainable change in how we as boards reflect and act.”