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28 May 2024

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy update 2024

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy update 2024

When we published our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy in 2021, we knew that there was much work to do and progress to be made as the representative body for Welsh housing associations. The strategy set us on an ambitious path to fully embrace the diversity of Wales both as an employer and across our service delivery.

We subsequently committed to a series of action plans to identify our specific priorities in relation to different protected characteristics. The first of these action plans was a focus on race equality, reflecting the commitments we made as part of Tai Pawb’s Deeds Not Words Pledge.

Over the past two years, progress has been made in a number of areas across the strategy and Race Equality Action Plan. We have:

  • explored how our new service delivery model can provide opportunities for a diverse range of voices to feed into our advocacy work;

  • developed new relationships and collaborated with external partners to deliver topical shared learning opportunities for our members;

  • highlighted the work of our members through an equality lens across our platforms;

  • sought diverse representation of speakers across our events and conferences wherever possible; and

  • began work on our people strategy, driven by regular staff engagement.

When I first wrote about our strategy and action plan, I said then that this wasn't the last word, and that for us to be successful we'd have to continue to reflect and learn. It has become clear that our intention to produce individual action plans for a range of protected characteristics, whilst simultaneously making progress on our initial commitments, has proved far more challenging and resource intensive than anticipated. It also does not reflect the need to consider the intersectionality of diverse communities. Our achievements have therefore been sporadic and limited without a clear and simple plan in place across all aspects of equality. In seeking to do the right thing, it is evident that we have overcomplicated the journey to becoming a more equitable organisation. This has unintentionally resulted in holding us back on taking more proactive action.

As a small organisation, we need to embed processes into our existing activity to ensure it is core to our work, can survive routine staff changes, and allows us to keep our focus across the entire organisation. This period has also given us the chance to reflect on our priorities, recognise where we do not hold the expertise, and to identify where we can best lean on our partners to provide us and our members with the necessary tools and support.

In light of this, we have recently refreshed our approach, to create one all encompassing action plan that covers wider protected characteristics, rather than numerous individual action plans. This will enable us to approach equality, diversity and inclusion in an intersectional way, which we consider essential for delivering on our aims. We are confident that this will allow for better clarity across the organisation, and is easier for our members, stakeholders and partners to see how we are progressing. As part of this, we have provided a more detailed breakdown of our progress to date against each of the actions. This can be found here and will be reported on annually to hold us accountable.

We are optimistic that this refreshed approach will enable us to grow on the firm foundations we initially laid to drive forward more meaningful change, helping us to play our part in improving equality across the social housing landscape.

- Stuart Ropke, chief executive, Community Housing Cymru