Becoming the best by governing well

Earlier this month, 200 delegates met for Community Housing Cymru’s annual governance conference.

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This was our biggest conference ever and was attended by governance professionals, regulators, tenants, senior executives and board members.

Proof, if it was needed, that the hunger to govern well and to challenge ourselves to be better is as strong as ever in Wales.

What stuck out for me over the sessions and conversations over the two days of conference was the appetite to build and maintain trust in what we do and how we do it.

I was struck by a comment by one of our speakers that ‘the best way to build trust – is to be trustworthy’.

Nothing to argue with there.

Yet I know from working with housing associations, their boards, staff and their tenants that they are stuffed full of people who live this mantra everyday…so why are we continually having this debate?

Perhaps, it is because the risk of not doing so is too big to bear.

Providing a home that is safe, warm and accessible is at the core of what we do, alongside making sure that services meet the needs of those that access them.

The tragedy at Grenfell Tower is one of the most extreme examples of the relationship between tenants and their landlord breaking down and it is one that we must all learn from.

In light of this appalling example it is right that we continue to have the debate about listening – whether we do it, how well we do it and most importantly of all what we do in response to what we hear.

Some of this is about data, some about processes but all of it is about culture.

In Wales we have been doing some thinking about this as a sector, and want to open this conversation up to others over the coming months.

At Community Housing Cymru, we have been working hard to support Board Members and leadership teams to consider these issues alongside providing the support and challenge to make sure we govern well.

As the nature of the challenge develops, so does the nature of governance.

That’s why our refreshed code of governance focuses on organisational culture rather than process, centring around seven foundational principles for good governance: organisational purpose, leadership, integrity, decision making, board effectiveness, diversity, openness and accountability.

Our new governance training will support board members to make these principles a reality.

By offering a range of packages which are tailored to the needs of board members no matter how new or experienced, we hope that this training will equip them with the tools, skills and confidence to govern well and continue to ask those difficult questions necessary to build and maintain trust.

Book your place here.

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