Branch Secretary :

BAME representation at senior levels - a G15 intiative

Sector has gone backwards


The ‘G15’ group of twelve large London based housing associations has launched a diploma management programme which it is claimed will increase BAME representation at senior levels in the sector according to Inside Housing.


The initiative is the most recent in a long series of initiatives with a similar aim but, as Inside Housing also reported recently, it is hard to point to progress in the field, indeed there are signs that things have gone backward in the sector.


Workers treated fairly


It seems particularly inadequate at a time that the vital and life endangering role of lower paid ‘key worker’ – where BAME staff are currently well represented – has been highlighted by the pandemic.


Unite has consistently warned that the series of much vaunted initiatives would fail unless fundamental issues are addressed. We want to see workers treated fairly and equally at all levels in housing organisations. That is important in itself, and discriminatory treatment of workers lower down the organisation will not assist career progression and is likely to contribute to the problem of representation at senior levels.


Union hostile


We have increasingly found a ‘union hostile’ approach by employers in the sector particularly when equality impact assessments are requested by union reps, or when we raise the unequal treatment of BAME workers in disciplinaries. We have also warned that the move away from paying the ‘rate for the job’ towards allegedly market linked ‘spot salaries’ has a negative impact on equal opportunity.


Sometimes it has been neccessary to launch campaigns in order to achive fairness in restructuring processes.


We warned that the increasing tendency of management in the sector to attempt to limit the operation of unions or, disgracefully, to derecognise unions would have a negative impact. It is hard to point to positive signs, but we hope that the agreement that Nottingham Community Housing Association signed with Unite marks a new and more enlightened trend in the sector.


The branch has a new equalities officer and we had a lively branch discussion on what the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement means for unions and for our branch.  This followed a series of discussions which led to us adopting this resolution. We cant leave progress on equality to the ‘leadership’ of the sector; it is clear why Unite reps are stepping up our campaigning work.


Paul Kershaw (branch chair)


July 19th 2020


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