Software of the Mind – Diversity Reawakened

Computers and the business case for diversity landed in our sector about the same time – the mid 1980s. Now have a go at replacing computers in the below narrative with diversity.

80s comp

Director 1: Let’s get some computers. They will help us be more efficient and will quickly pay for themselves.

CEO: OK, seems those housing associations that were early adopters are seeing some real benefits.

Director 1: All our departments have had computers for a little time now and there are mixed responses.  This is what they said:

Director 2: It’s nice to have one. At least I can say we have it, and maybe we’ll take it out of the box next month.

Director 3: The way we used to do things made sense, and computers only cause problems and conflict.

Board member 1: Yeah, but how does it really help us to build more houses?

Manager 1: So has anyone worked out how to use it yet? And, what are these different bits?

Manager 2: Mine doesn’t work properly – there must be something wrong with it.

Officer 1: I wish they’d let me have a go.


We wouldn’t not have our computers would we? We wouldn’t not use them would we?

We wouldn’t not keep exploring how they can help in new places – we even want our residents to use them.

We wouldn’t allow computers to become too outdated would we?

Almost everyone in our sector that remembers will tell you we used to be so much better at diversity.

Yes, there has been progress in some specific areas – maybe just enough to resist proper progress and scarily enough sometimes getting those from separate diversity strands competing with each other or playing inter-sectionality trump cards.

People and their diversity are, of course, not the same as computers – just more crucial.

Let’s face it, we’ve allowed our expertise in diversity to become depleted. Maybe we had to make tough choices about investments in diversity initiatives, people and evaluations – but in hindsight this happened far too much and for too long.

These false economies can account for quantitative and qualitative losses.

This has meant our understanding of diversity concepts and mechanisms needs to be regained. Without it we deliver partial or token responses that perhaps prove it wasn’t worth trying or blamelessly explain to others that we did try.

But we can relearn and build on those things that have worked. The sector continues to develop the diversity of its people, it experiments with its diversity projects, and hones its diversity policies and procedures.

The catalyst we need now to ensure the speed and stamina is a diversity culture that eats diversity strategy for breakfast. The diversity reawakening during this past year has begun well.

It looks set to continue for more years, too, as all those involved are uncompromisingly committing to carry one with the campaigns in earnest.

Let me give you a just a few examples of many follow up conferences, summits, media campaigns, and awards in 2019: 24Housing (Diversity in Housing Awards on 16th May), #housingdiversityday social media campaign (19th March); NHF, BMENational and HDN are driving forward Housing’s Diversity Manifesto for sector-wide policy level change.

I am pleased, at least relieved, that our sector has been stirred to diversity again since the new year.

There is no small thanks to the efforts of a few individuals and a few housing providers; to media campaigns by 24 Housing (24 Diversity) and Housing Diversity Network (#housingdiversityday); and to conferences, summits and awards (too many to mention).

I’ve used the word ‘diversity’ when for arguably for completeness. I should have used ‘equality, diversity, and inclusion’, but that’s clumsy and the EDI phrase rolls off the tongue too readily without necessarily engaging the mind.

I’ve observed quite widespread confusion as to what each mean and how they interact.

Do ponder on this for a moment for your context: neither equality nor diversity can live without the other, and both must dance well together for inclusion.

If you need help with your computers, HDN can help or put you in touch with someone who can.

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