News & Views

You have the power to build a new future for the sector with diversity and inclusion at its heart

Written by Leadership 2025 participant, published by Inside Housing magazine.

As someone outside the social housing sector, Shaun Scantlebury can see the potential it has to drive the diversity and inclusion agenda forward.

Last year I was delighted when I was invited to be a layperson (ie someone from outside the housing sector) on the Leadership 2025 advisory board.

As director of people advisory services at EY, I work with a number of organisations that want to make a bigger impact through their diversity and inclusion programmes, and so the chance to be involved in an initiative with the ambition of diversifying the upper echelons of a whole sector seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.

A year on, and having picked up a little bit of knowledge, it occurs to me that the housing sector could be uniquely placed to deliver diversity and inclusiveness benefits the likes of which other sectors could only dream of.

So, what’s the opportunity, what’s the case for pursuing it and what does it have to do with purpose?

Picture: Getty

Through building and managing people’s homes, the sector has a special relationship with the community.

I recall from my university studies that right at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are the basic physiological and safety needs, which include the need for shelter.

So much of the narrative on diversity and inclusion is focused on what happens towards the top of the pyramid: belonging, esteem and self-actualisation.

As employers and through the services the sector provides, there is an opportunity to go further through the provision of a place where people find warmth, rest, security and safety. Their homes.

The social housing sector in particular has a growing, large and diverse customer base representing nearly a fifth of all households in the UK and providing homes to approximately nine million people.

The social rented sector has a similar proportion of ethnic minority households as the private rented sector, but some ethnic groups are more likely to rent social housing than others. For example, 43% of all black households live in the social rented sector compared with 16% of white households and 25% of all ethnic minority households.

Through the provision of services to this customer base, the sector has an opportunity to have a profound and positive connection with and impact on diverse communities.

Existing legislation such as the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 and the Equality Act 2010 place an emphasis on providers of public services to consider the wider social, economic and environmental benefits that the service delivers.

Further, the Social Housing Green Paper signals a clear steer towards a regulatory framework with a sharp focus on customer centricity.

The business case for diversity has been well documented elsewhere, so I will not repeat that here.

But taking one example specific to the sector, the mayor of London’s Good Growth By Design plan, there is a clear call to action for all those involved in the architectural, design and built environment professions to build an inclusive city that designs for diversity.

This will be supported by the Greater London Authority to push for more innovative diversity policies through procurement processes. This is an emerging trend in other publicly funded infrastructure programmes.

Yet a survey by Inside Housing in 2017 found that less than 5% of housing association executives identified as black and minority ethnic. How does the sector demonstrate it is connected?

Existing legislation such as the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 and the Equality Act 2010 place an emphasis on providers of public services to consider the wider social, economic and environmental benefits that the service delivers.

Further, the Social Housing Green Paper signals a clear steer towards a regulatory framework with a sharp focus on customer centricity.

The business case for diversity has been well documented elsewhere, so I will not repeat that here.

But taking one example specific to the sector, the mayor of London’s Good Growth By Design plan, there is a clear call to action for all those involved in the architectural, design and built environment professions to build an inclusive city that designs for diversity.

This will be supported by the Greater London Authority to push for more innovative diversity policies through procurement processes. This is an emerging trend in other publicly funded infrastructure programmes.

Yet a survey by Inside Housing in 2017 found that less than 5% of housing association executives identified as black and minority ethnic. How does the sector demonstrate it is connected?

“My lay opinion is that this proud sector has a unique opportunity to reinvigorate its purpose with diversity and inclusiveness at its heart”

If an organisation’s purpose articulates why it exists, the above context provides a compelling case for the sector to demonstrate that it is connected and understands its communities.

The corporate environment is characterised by increasing ambiguity, disruption and change where trust in organisations is at an all-time low.

The housing sector faces similar challenges. In response, businesses are turning towards a broader perspective of value creation.

With employees valuing a company’s culture over salary and customers stating that they would choose brands with a clear purpose rather than those without, this matters.

My lay opinion is that this proud sector has a unique opportunity to reinvigorate its purpose with diversity and inclusiveness at its heart, setting a course that creates a legacy and builds trust for those that work within the sector and for your customers – your communities.

Shaun Scantlebury, director, EY’s People Advisory Services, and leader, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory practice

Click here to read more on Inside Housing

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The Importance of Innovation

Written by Leadership 2025 participant, Jehan Weerasinghe, published by 24housing magazine.

What does innovation mean?  Well, for me, what it certainly isn’t is a handful of individuals sitting around in a lab work-shopping cool ideas to trial.

It’s about responding to challenges and finding new solutions that can work.

Housing has many challenges: the shortage of affordable homes in areas of high demand; the affordability of running a home for social housing tenants; universal credit; skills shortages in the building industry; environmental sustainability of homes; fuel poverty.

I could keep going.

With challenges like these, it’s clear we need to think differently while also staying true to our core mission of providing safe, affordable and warm homes….

Click here to read more.

Housing sector leaders promote leadership diversity

A group of leaders from the housing industry met for the first-time last week to discuss how to improve diversity across the sector.

The Leadership 2025 Advisory Board has been established to support housing associations to implement the five recommendations of the Leadership 2025 Review on creating a more diverse sector, and to monitor their progress.*

At this inaugural meeting, the Mayor of London’s Office confirmed its commitment to ensuring that the capital’s housing sector can draw on the talents of people from the widest possible range of backgrounds.

The Board includes:

Gina Amoh (Chair) – Chief Executive of Inquilab HA and Chair of BME Landlords London.
David Montague – Chief Executive, L&Q
Jamie Ratcliff – Assistant Director of Housing, GLA
Shaun Scantlebury – Director, EY People Advisory Services
Elly Hoult – Chair, CIH Futures
Emma Maier – Editor, Inside Housing

And is supported by Altair Specialist Housing Consultants.

The Board will meet on a quarterly basis over the next year to consider how the sector can ensure that best practice, from both within and beyond housing, is truly embedded in housing association practices.

(more…)