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At North Star, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion are part of our DNA. Together, we continue to build a culture that encourages, supports, and celebrates difference. It fuels our innovation and connects us even closer to our customers and communities.
“Real change occurs when people who are not used to speaking are heard by people who are not used to listening.” (author unknown)
Often, unconscious biases surrounding cultural differences can act as a barrier to true inclusion and equality. We aim to make our Staff and Board aware of these barriers and help encourage behaviours and attitudes to establish and maintain an inclusive workplace culture.
All Staff and Board members at North Star take part in training on Unconscious Bias, LGBTQ+ Advance, and Disability Awareness. We have also developed a forward plan to help ensure our training continues to cover important EDI issues such as anti racism and neurodiversity.
CHANGE STARTS AT THE TOP
In 2021, North Star, in coalition with Beyond Housing, Gentoo, Thirteen Group, and the Housing Diversity Network (HDN), launched a two-year programme to develop the board members of the future. The aim was to increase diversity at a Board level
Twelve trainees received comprehensive training, shadowed local Boards, and were supported by a mentor. The skills they gained will help prepare them to become the Board Members of the future.
In 2023 the North Star Board trainees ( Four women, three of whom were ethnically diverse) graduated from the programme. We received some great feedback that highlighted:
‘Trainees felt welcomed by the Board and believe their views were valued during meetings’
‘North Star have been accommodating to the needs of trainees who were often juggling conflicting priorities, including new babies, job changes, house moves, supporting family members, and demanding full time jobs’
‘North Star was awarded the BME Award for diversity and inclusion for their contribution to this unique programme’
It’s very important to us that our Board and Staff are representative of the communities where we work, and the society that we live in. We know that there is more to do to increase representation of younger people, people who have a disability and people who are minority ethnic.
Annually, Board set workforce targets to increase representation underrepresented groups. Current targets are 13.5% for staff with a disability and 8% for ethnically diverse staff.
Developed by The National Housing Federation and Altair, The Chairs’ Challenge is a public commitment made by a board chair to begin – or further develop – a journey create an inclusive environment for all. This will include creating a vision for their board to become more equal, diverse and inclusive, and taking active steps towards fulfilling their vision.
The Chair of North Star, Anna Urbanowicz has signed up to the challenge.
Progress against 2022/23 Objectives
In 2022/23 of the new Staff who started work with North Star:
Objectives for 2023/24
Addressing issues of under representation is evolutionary. To tackle inequality, actions need to be well planned, strategic, sustainable, and taken seriously. For North Star this is a strategic priority, and Board has approved the following objectives
Staff and Board
We take positive action to help ensure that people from underrepresented groups are given equal opportunities.
We intend to increase the number of staff who describe themselves as ethnically diverse and the numbers of staff who have a disability. We take positive action when recruiting.
North Star is a member of the Disability Confident scheme, this means that we guarantee an interview to any person declaring a disability who meets the essential job criteria. We also guarantee an interview to any ethnically diverse candidate who meets the essential job criteria
We have worked hard to develop healthy, mutually beneficial relationships with a number of organisations, including:
It is lovely to win awards. However, what we really value is the independent assessment of what we do. Awards help to promote us as an organisation that takes EDI seriously.
We have been nominated for several EDI awards because of our apprenticeship schemes and our approach to LGBTQ+ recruitment and allyship. We were honoured to win the following awards:
‘Creating LGBTQ Inclusion and Accessibility in the Workplace Award’ in the LGBTQ Alliance Awards
‘Apprenticeship Organisation of the Year’ for the Board Diversity Program at the Tees Valley BME Achievement Awards.