Jane Nelson, LCB Group

The first AMIP meeting of 2023 took place on International Women’s Day on board the iconic HMS Belfast, and explored the theme of equality, diversity, inclusion, and respect.

The day was split into four sessions, which commenced with Jane Nelson, Non-Executive Director of LCB Group, who explored whether the “tides were turning,” when it came to gender equality, within the housing sector.

Jane gave a fascinating history of the role that women have played in housing and construction throughout the centuries. In the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries it wasn’t unusual for women to have a trade, but this all changed in the 19th century, she explained.

Fast forward to 2023, and women make up just 13% of the construction workforce – 81% of which are administrative and secretarial roles. This figure hasn’t changed in 20 years, yet labour shortages are still near or at the top of risk registers.

There is a strong business case for increasing the number of women in the sector, said Jane, and all businesses within the sector can take action to turn the tide, from creating a warm and welcoming culture to working more closely with colleges.

equality -Jane Nelson

Debansu Das and Jake Boomhauer, Housing Diversity Network

The second session: “Building an inclusive future: whose lens?” was led by Debansu Das, Chair of the Housing Diversity Network, and Jake Boomhauer, Non-Executive Director of the Orbit Group and MMC Taskforce Lead at DLUHC. The pair led an interactive discussion with attendees, around what an inclusive culture looks like and the barriers to building one.

The session outlined how organisations need to foster open communication  create an environment which makes all colleagues feel respected, and  provide diversity and inclusion training, cementing it within company policies.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is important for attracting and retaining staff, higher customer satisfaction and enhanced profitability, they explained, while support from the top is paramount to cultivating a more diversified workforce.

Lucy Malarkey, Women in Social Housing and Positive About Inclusion

The third session, “Inclusion is everyone’s business,” presented by Lucy Malarkey, Co-founder of Positive About Inclusion, and Managing Director of Women In Social Housing (WISH), touched upon how workplaces can evolve their attitudes, to incorporate inclusion and diversity, through three steps: learn, challenge and support.

Lucy explained how WISH was created to support women experiencing gender bias in the workplace and had become a safe space for members to seek advice. The female-led organisation thrives on creating allies and reinforcing inclusion, to helps women flourish.

Equality - Lucy Malarkey

Paul Bridge, The Clive Smith Foundation

The final session of the day was a powerful, and emotive presentation from Paul Bridge, Chief Executive Social Housing at Civitas Investment Management, about the Clive Smith Foundation.

The Foundation was set up after Paul’s best friend Clive Smith, a highly respected and successful architect, unexpectedly took his own life on 5th April 2021, and aims to support people experiencing mental health problems and to increase awareness of mental health issues.

Paul called upon the sector to join him in changing society and to be open and honest talking about mental health, urging everyone present to ring someone who they hadn’t spoken to in a while and check in.

Equality - Clive

Private Lunchtime Talk

Attendees were also treated to a fascinating talk from Mike Smith, a yeoman of the HMS Belfast, who was a fountain of knowledge on the warship’s history. He talked about its role in conflicts including the Second World War, and shared many interesting facts with the audience, including, where the guns, which are still fully operational are targeted, and why anyone over the height of 5ft 7 was known as “Lofty”.

For more information on AMIP membership, please email: AMIP@echelonip.co.uk