Geeta Nanda addresses the issue of diversity at board level

In her latest column for Inside Housing, Metropolitan Thames Valley’s Chief Executive Geeta Nanda OBE argued strongly for diversity in senior positions and touched on her organisation’s new programme to address this issue, Black on Board.

Although housing associations have strong roots among BAME (black/Asian/Minority-ethnic) communities, they are struggling to address the issue of diversity, as their representation continues to remain anchored to frontline positions.

Geeta Nanda, Chief Executive, MTVH
Geeta Nanda, Chief Executive, MTVH

Geeta stressed that organisations who positively encourage diversity consistently outperform those that do not, with her statement being supported by an independent review by Baroness McGregor-Smith in 2017.

The findings from this investigation estimated that the potential benefit to the UK economy from full representation of BAME individuals across the labour market, through much improved participation and progression, would be £24bn a year.

In order to be more representative of its tenants and employees, Metropolitan Thames Valley has partnered with race equality charity Olmec to implement ‘Black on Board’.

This is a programme aimed at improving the racial diversity on governing boards of every type of organisation, ranging from civil society and public sector organisations to private sector companies. It is open to all Metropolitan Thames Valley staff, from entry level right up to senior management posts. They have also decided to involve their residents, and by 2020 will have provided training for a total of 40 individuals, including four tenants.

The programme runs over 14 sessions, providing training and mentoring for participants, including support to identify and apply for board positions. It has already tasted success, with 14 out of the initial 20-strong cohort having been offered a board position.

Geeta concludes her piece by stating that while addressing diversity will be a lengthy journey, the only way the social housing sector can resolve the issue is by being open about the challenge and beginning action. With Black on Board turning out positive results, Metropolitan Thames Valley is setting a good precedent.

You can read Geeta’s Inside Housing column here.

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