Equality, diversity and inclusion
Network Homes is dedicated to making sure that our workplace and the communities we serve are places of equality, diversity and inclusion.
Being sympathetic to the equality and inclusion issues faced by our residents allows us to provide better customer service, and we’ve pledged to make our organisation reflect the diversity of our residents which will help to strengthen trust and transparency.
Our 10 Point Plan for equality, inclusion and diversity
We are committed to addressing the issue of inequality through the implementation of practical, time-limited actions and targets in our 10 Point Plan.
1. Monitor and report on equality, diversity and inclusion among staff
We will publish an annual diversity report on pay gaps relating to gender, disability, and ethnicity. This report will also cover differences in performance management and CAD ratings, promotions, sickness absence, redundancy, and disciplinary actions. We will use our findings to contribute to an annual collective G15 report on diversity.
We will also explore and expand our monitoring of equality and diversity in new areas, such as employee engagement. Regular staff surveys and feedback through the Information and Consultation Committee will be used to monitor how inclusive our people find Network.
2. Create a more diverse workforce through enhanced recruitment techniques
We will continue to implement the Rooney Rule: any women or BAME applicants to SMT, ELT or Board positions who meet the minimum criteria will be interviewed. Diverse interview panels are an important way to avoid bias in recruitment. We will aim for interview panels to include at least one woman and one BAME employee where possible. This may not always be feasible, for instance if there are no women or BAME employees in the relevant team of an appropriate level of seniority to join the interview panel. But our aspiration is to do this wherever we can, and especially when recruiting to the least diverse areas of the business.
We will seek to attract BAME talent into the housing sector through the Emerging Talent Programme, which we are sponsoring, working with Altair and Future of London as part of Leadership 2025. We will also seek to do this in our apprenticeship programme and will work with the Charityworks graduate scheme to ensure we employ a more diverse pool of graduates.
Working with the G15, we will develop a good practice document on recruitment and selection of BAME talent. We will also share opportunities for positions and secondments with other G15 members.
We will advertise job opportunities on local community websites as well as through recruiters.
3. Provide talent development and career progression programmes
We will continue with our HARTBeat talent development programmes focused on women’s development (the Aspire programme) and on development for BAME colleagues (the Springboard programme).
We will also take part in Accelerate, the G15-wide development programme for BAME middle management and leadership.
And we will encourage our senior BAME leaders to apply to the Leadership 2025 intensive leadership development programme.
4. Ensure internal policies facilitate equality, diversity and inclusion among staff
We will regularly review our policies to make sure our working arrangements are as open and inclusive as possible, including our policies on flexible working and absence management. This means reviewing every three years or sooner if circumstances require. We will also review the impact of all new policies on protected characteristics through Equality Impact Assessments.
We will develop new policies and procedures to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion. For instance, we are currently developing a procedure for managing gender transitioning at work.
5. Increase diversity at Board and senior leadership level
In order to better reflect the diversity of the communities we serve, we will aim to increase the proportion of women and people from BAME backgrounds on the Board and in senior leadership (defined as the top 10% of earners).
We will aim for 50% of Board positions be held by women, and 33% of Board positions to be held by people from BAME backgrounds, by 2025. These are also our long-term targets for senior leadership, however in this context they are more challenging. We will therefore set an interim target of 40% of senior leadership positions being held by women, and 30% of senior leadership positions being held by people from BAME backgrounds, by 2025, as a step towards achieving the same targets as for Board.
One reason why the senior leadership context is more challenging is that it is more difficult to plan for recruitment to this group than for recruitment to the Board. Board members serve terms with agreed end dates, whereas we cannot predict when recruitment opportunities for senior leadership roles will arise.
These are aspirational targets, but we are confident they can be met given the improvements to recruitment and career development outlined in this document and in the G15 recruitment good practice guide.
6. Raise awareness and provide training for staff
All new employees will continue to receive mandatory equality and diversity training. All managers and interviewers will also receive unconscious bias training, which we will aim to roll out more widely.
We will also continue to offer training on specific equality, diversity, and inclusion issues. Previous examples of this include training on domestic violence and on LGBTQ+ discrimination.
We will move towards a blended training format involving digital learning, making it easier for everyone to engage, and ensuring lessons are embedded across the organisation. We will also raise awareness of specific issues through our cultural engagement and wellbeing agenda. Previous examples of this include HARTs and Minds sessions on mental health, and menopause workshops.
7. Learn from residents and empower them to influence
We will encourage our Resident Panels and other engaged resident groups to hold us to account on equality, diversity, and inclusion. As part of the HouseProud Pledge, we will reach out to LGBTQ+ residents and work together to tackle discrimination.
8. Tackle equality issues facing residents
We will continue to facilitate home adaptations for residents with disabilities, and to make alternative communications methods available. Our new offices will be accessible, in line with building regulations.
We will make sure any instances of discrimination, harassment or hate-crime are swiftly and fully dealt with through our anti-social behaviour procedure. This includes supporting and ensuring the safety of complainants and witnesses. Lessons from these cases will be included in equality training.
We will use our regular phone surveys of residents to ask how we are doing in terms of equality and inclusion, so we can monitor the impact our actions are having.
9. Actively and visibly promote equality, diversity, and inclusion at all levels
In Winter 2020/21 we will host a major event celebrating the contribution of BAME professionals to the housing sector. And we will recognise the contributions of BAME colleagues annually through the G15 Diversity in Housing Awards, an awards ceremony specifically for BAME professionals and residents.
All G15 CEOs have signed a pledge on BAME diversity, committing them to promoting ethnic diversity through recruitment, investment in and celebration of their people’s achievements. The pledge also commits G15 CEOs to work with a BAME ‘reverse mentor’ to improve their understanding of the disadvantages facing BAME communities.
We will promote LGBTQ+ visibility by using the HouseProud Pledge image in corporate communications, wearing rainbow lanyards, and placing rainbow flags and stickers in offices and receptions.
We will also host events to raise awareness on key dates throughout the year, including but not limited to Black History Month, Pride, and International Women’s Day. We will encourage our people to form project groups and take ownership of these events, and to form groups focused on other equality strands, such as disability and religion.
10. Collaborate to influence
Our Executive Director of People and Technology will actively support the Leadership 2025 programme as part of its steering group.
We will participate in sector-wide network groups, including HouseProud, a network for LGBTQ+ social housing professionals, Unify, a network for BAME housing professionals, and the London Diversity Group, a network for anyone working on equality, diversity, and inclusion in social housing.
Supporting diversity in the workplace
We have employee-led groups across Network which, along with our Equality and Diversity Engagement Group, help us to identify and implement initiatives and changes to support an inclusive and diverse workplace.
Racial Equality Action Group
The Racial Equality Action Group was setup in 2020 to promote racial equality at Network Homes and ensure we deliver on our 10 point plan. It’s open to anyone to join whether they identify as BAME or not.
Some achievements so far:
- Being open and frank about racial equality – we’ve kept the conversation going around racial equality and held discussion sessions about it, so people have a platform to talk about racism at work and evaluate how we’re doing at Network Homes.
- Improving recruitment and selection process to tackle racial bias – we now have blind recruitment, therefore when people apply for jobs at Network Homes the recruiting manager only sees the information relevant for the job and not personal information that could identify the person.
- Adopting the Halo Code – we’re make it clear that no black or mixed heritage employee with afro-textured hair should have to change their natural or protective hairstyle to thrive at Network Homes.
- Proactively raising awareness and increasing people’s understanding of issues black people and people of other races experience – we share articles and blogs from colleagues about their experiences so more people are aware of racial concerns and experiences that affect or influence colleagues.
The LGBTQ+ group is open to all staff, whether they identify as straight or as LGBTQ+. The group’s aim is to help improve the lives of LGBTQ+ staff and residents, and celebrate the diversity of our staff.
The group helped to push Network into being one of the first adopters of the HouseProud Pledge. This a scheme designed to help LGBTQ+ residents enjoy their homes without fear of discrimination.
We’ve since gained Houseproud Pledge Pioneer status which means Network Homes has achieved substantial progress in delivering three core commitments:
- We have formal arrangements in place to consult with LGBTQ+ residents
- We have visibly promoted our commitment to LGBTQ+ resident inclusivity
- We have initiated a programme of staff training to improve understanding of LGBTQ+ resident lives
Women’s Equality Group
The group was setup in 2021 to promote women's equality as well as gender equality at Network and ensure we deliver on our 10-point plan.
It's an inclusive group open for anyone to join whether they identify as a woman or not.