This browser is not actively supported anymore. For the best passle experience, we strongly recommend you upgrade your browser.
Join our Mailing List


The latest news from Devonshires, sent to you direct.

Join our mailing list and find out what we’re up to and what we think about recent events and future possibilities.

| 3 minutes read

Key Takeaways and Insights from the HDN Board Diversity Conference

Last Thursday I spent the day up in Leeds and had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the Housing Diversity Network (HDN) Board Diversity Conference 2024 sponsored by Devonshires. I always enjoy getting involved with events hosted by HDN and this year's conference agenda did not disappoint. 

The different speakers and sessions throughout the day were insightful and also quite challenging, providing lots of thought provoking discussions with fellow attendees during the breaks! 

I chaired a panel discussion on "What Makes a Good Board" with Jesse Fajemisin (Executive Director, Mount Green), Lynne Nicholls (Director, Leonis Solutions) and Nicola Ebdon (Assistant Director, Lincolnshire Housing Partnership) and I really enjoyed hearing the unique perspectives of the panellists on the topic, which definitely made my job as chair easy! 

I also wanted to share some of the insights and thoughts I noted throughout the day:

Amanda Dubarry (Chief Executive) and Kevin Maxwell MBE (Board member) from Your Place provided some interesting insights into how a relatively small local based provider can meet EDI challenges to create inclusive leadership at Board level. Some of Amanda’s feedback on this included: organisations not ducking the issue, having a clear strategy and being ambitious and appreciating the long term investment required. As Amanda summarised, smaller housing associations can still have a big impact. 

During our panel session Lynne, Jesse and Nicola each discussed the importance of creating an inclusive culture on Boards which fosters healthy challenge and collective responsibility in order to meet the needs of the communities organisations serve. The panel agreed a good Board must understand that EDI is a key component of all Board decision-making, and not just a tick box. 

Zara Mohammed (Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain) discussed the intersectional challenges faced by the Muslim community in the UK and how these can apply more broadly across marginalised communities. In particular, Zara discussed whether organisations have the openness and willingness to meet the needs of diverse communities or are sticking to the same systems and hoping for the best. 

Kanthi Ford (Managing Director, KFV Consulting) and Patrick Ricketts (Board member, Great Places Housing Group) hosted a challenging discussion around bias and in particular reflecting on systemic privileges as a way to reflect on unconscious biases we may have and how they can impact effective decision making. 

Alistair McIntosh’s (Chief Executive, HQN) discussion and challenge to the room whether the job and the challenges the sector faces have really changed in the last 30 years, noting that many of today’s challenges were the focus of work carried out in the early 90s. Alistair summarised the challenging position that the sector faces but that tenant satisfaction must be taken seriously, with a warning on how the new consumer regulation gradings may have governance consequences for organisations.

Anne-Marie Bancroft’s  (Head of Consumer Regulation, Altair) discussion centred around complaints and regulation. In particular, Anne Marie highlighted the importance of organisations looking at the root causes for complaints (often fairness (lack of) communication and respect) – rather than just the areas complaints relate to (usually repairs and ASB), using the Tenant Satisfaction Measures on complaints as learning and evaluation tools, understanding the dangers of multi avenue or inaccessible complaints systems and ensuring complaints are recorded. Anne-Marie also highlighted the role the Building Safety Regulator will play alongside the Housing Ombudsman and the Regulator of Social Housing and how organisations must also prepare. 

I’ve come away with lots of food for thought and insights and look forward to building on this to support our clients and the sector, and particularly for the Board workshops Mushtaq Khan (CEO of HDN) and I deliver on Driving Diversity: The Role of Boards. 

Please do get in touch if you’d like to hear more on any of the above including what the following topics may mean for your organisation:

  • the Board’s role in driving EDI;
  • the Building Safety Regulator and complaints;
  • compliance with the Housing Ombudsman’s Complaints Handling Code; and
  • compliance with the new Consumer Standards. 


consumer regulation, equality diversity inclusion, banking governance and corporate, building safety, building safety act 2022, governance, regulatory, tenant consultation, housing associations, housing sector