Every voice matters: Diversity training programme launches for board members of the future in the North East

We’re delighted to support the launch of the Housing Diversity Network’s (HDN) training programme for local people from underrepresented backgrounds to become potential future board members at housing associations in the North East.

We’re working alongside the HDN and North East-based housing providers: Beyond Housing, North Star Housing Group and Thirteen, to create a two-year programme that will work with trainees from diverse and minority backgrounds, to develop their skills and knowledge to help them become our board members of the future.

The programme, the first of its kind to be delivered in the North East, has focused on increasing diversity at board level. Applications were encouraged from people where their ethnicity is under-represented, people who are LGBTQ+, people with a disability, women, and young people.  

People from such backgrounds continue to be significantly under-represented at board level - locally, nationally, and internationally - and we are proud to have helped create and support this programme with HDN to change such underrepresentation.

During the two-year programme, the 12 trainees enrolled on the programme will receive comprehensive training, shadow local boards, and be supported by a mentor. The skills that individuals gain on the programme will help to prepare them to become potential future board members for the four housing associations that are supporting the programme.

One of the major benefits for the apprentices is the lived experience of observing boards and committees, enabling them to see how things happen and come to fruition. It will develop their confidence and they will build networks, whilst enabling Beyond, Gentoo, North Star, and Thirteen to gain diversity of thought and experience on their boards. 

Kumareswaradas Ramanathas said: "I’m delighted to join the board member training programme and to be given the opportunity to gain skills and experience that could allow me to become a future Gentoo Group board member. As a member of the South Asian community in Sunderland, I am hugely passionate about the city and am well aware of the impact Gentoo has on its tenants and residents. I’m really excited to potentially be a part of that in the capacity of a board member.”

Hayder Qureshi said: “It’s a real pleasure to have been accepted onto the Housing Diversity Network’s Board Training Programme and to be given the chance to develop into a potential board member for a housing association such as Gentoo. It’s been great to meet Ram and other people on the programme and am looking forward to working closely with Yvonne and the HDN to develop my skills and knowledge that will enable me to become a board member in the future.”

Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive Officer at Gentoo Group, said: “It is fantastic to be part of the training programme and to create opportunities for local people from underrepresented backgrounds who can become our board members of tomorrow. We have worked hard at Gentoo over recent years to ensure the Group Board and Senior Leadership Team are gender balanced and recognise the value and importance of the training programme to develop diversity of thought at the highest level. We look forward to working with Gentoo’s nominated members on the programme, Ram and Hayder, and to seeing them develop into potential Gentoo board members.”

Yvonne Davies, Consultant for The Housing Diversity Network said: “I look forward to introducing the trainees to the world of housing, governance and regulation over the next 2 years. They will develop their skills, knowledge, constructive challenge and diverse thinking, adding value in the years to come to the boards who have supported them. This is a great programme to promote diversity on boards.”

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