Reflecting diversity, enhancing community: the EDI journey at Manningham Housing Association

Lee Bloomfield, 19 June 2024

A commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) is not just a regulatory requirement, it is a core element that drives innovative and equitable solutions for communities. At Manningham Housing Association (MHA), my focus on EDI stems from a deep-seated belief that diversity is not just about meeting quotas, but about enriching perspectives and fostering a truly inclusive environment.

EDI at Manningham

Championing EDI at MHA has been driven by several factors. First, as an organisation that serves a broad community, it is our responsibility to reflect that diversity at every level of our operations. This alignment not only enhances our service delivery, but also builds trust and respect within the communities we serve.

Another factor is having a diverse workforce which brings an abundance of crucial perspectives to problem-solving and decision-making processes. It challenges the status quo and encourages innovation, allowing us to devise solutions that are thoughtful and considerate of the various needs of our customers and stakeholders.

Our plan for EDI

The journey toward enhanced EDI at MHA began with a thorough assessment of our existing policies and practices. We engaged with employees at all levels, as well as our residents, to gather insights and identify areas needing improvement. This collaborative approach ensured that the changes we implemented were not only top-down directives but were also influenced by those who would be most affected by them.

Our core values of respect, integrity, and collaboration were the guiding principles of our EDI initiatives. These values informed every decision, from revamping our recruitment strategy to restructuring our leadership training programmes.

One of the key changes we implemented was the revision of our recruitment and hiring practices. We introduced anonymised recruitment techniques to minimise unconscious bias and established partnerships with organisations that support underrepresented groups in the workforce.

We also developed comprehensive training programmes for all staff, focusing on cultural competency and bias awareness. These programs are not one-time events but ongoing conversations that evolve as our understanding and the societal context change.

Outcomes of our work

The focus on EDI has reaped considerable benefits for MHA. By implementing inclusive recruitment practices and fostering an open, respectful workplace culture, we have seen a notable increase in employee satisfaction and retention. This stability within our workforce translates to better customer service and a deeper understanding of the needs of our residents.

We have also achieved a more diverse workforce, which has led to improved problem-solving capabilities and innovative thinking. Our employee engagement scores have improved, reflecting a workforce that feels valued and understood.

Additionally, our commitment to EDI has enhanced our reputation within the community and among peers. It has opened doors to new partnerships and collaborative opportunities, which further our mission and amplify our impact.

The positive feedback from our community has been overwhelming. Our residents appreciate seeing themselves reflected in our staff and leadership, which strengthens the community's trust in our services.

Recognition of our work

Our dedication to equality, diversity and inclusion recently culminated in MHA becoming the first housing association worldwide to achieve the ISO 30415 certification for Diversity and Inclusion in HR Management.

The prestigious ISO 30415 standard is an internationally recognised certification that endorses exemplary practices in diversity and inclusion within organisations. This accolade was awarded after a comprehensive assessment, including on-site evaluations and extensive discussions with employees and stakeholders.

The independent assessor heralded MHA as "an exemplary organisation in respect of diversity and inclusion." This reflects our dedicated efforts to not only meet but exceed the diverse needs of our residents, enhancing their life prospects through skills development, health and wellbeing, and job opportunities.

Our journey is ongoing, and while we have made significant strides, there is always more to do. Other organisations can learn from our approach by recognising that true inclusivity requires persistent effort and a willingness to change. At MHA, we remain committed to championing EDI, not just as a policy but as a defining aspect of our identity.