24Young Leader to pioneer diversity programme

The programme aims to identify the next generation of influencers and develop them into candidates for a board-ready talent pool.

Trainee NEDs

A 24housing Young Leaders finalist has been recruited as part of an innovative pilot to aim to unlock the potential of future leaders by championing diversity.

Rebecca Simpson, 26, is among 11 trainee board members on Achieving and Harnessing Board Diversity, a pilot programme being pioneered by Together Housing Group and Progress Housing Group, in partnership with Housing Diversity Network.

The programme aims to identify the next generation of influencers from all walks of life and develop them into candidates for a board-ready talent pool.

A recent survey revealed that, although the affordable housing sector is more culturally diverse than the FTSE 100 and other sectors, there is still “much to be done” to represent tenants and our society on governing boards.

Michelle Park, Together Housing Group diversity board champion, said that board diversity is not about meeting quotas, adding that it’s about bringing together different experiences to “best represent the communities we serve”.

The Achieving and Harnessing Board Diversity programme seeks to invigorate diverse thinking and decision-making on boards and committees through the contribution of diverse individuals. It does this by a holistic approach, which both challenges and supports, through:

• Preparing with board and senior team for the business to receive and maximise the opportunities of a more diverse board
• Searching for and supporting selection of diverse board members
• Inducting and training new recruits, including exposure to other boards and access to the HDN Board Excellence programme
• Support mentoring, coaching and training to ensure retention and a great contribution from new recruits, over a period of 2-3 years

Progress Housing Group (PHG) recently recruited five trainee board members for its programme, and Together Housing has recruited six candidates.

24housing Young Leaders runner-up Rebecca, from Halifax, is a Policy Officer for a West Yorkshire housing association and is currently seconded to a role in Homes for the North.

Commenting on her recruitment, she said: “I have applied for a couple of other board positions, but was told I didn’t quite have the experience, so it is great to be given the opportunity to become board-ready via this programme.

“I am hoping to learn more about governance of housing associations, to be more strategic, to have decision making capacity, and to impact the lives of people in the community I’m from.”

Jacqui De-Rose, CEO of Progress Housing Group, added: “It stands to reason that inclusive organisations consistently perform better.

“Diverse businesses are able to attract people from the widest pool of talent, and employees who are free to be themselves are happier, more authentic and more productive.

“Having a wide range of perspectives represented in the boardroom is critical to effective governance. Being able to draw upon a diverse set of skills and knowledge is essential for boards to address the complex issues our organisations face.”

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