Bernicia – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Support Partnership

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"I have worked with Karen and Lucy for over 12 months in relation to our ED&I Strategy and annual plan.  They are both extremely knowledgeable and personable and have been supportive whilst we have been working through an ED&I audit and specifically on the roll out of our ED&I education programme that covers all colleagues from Board to frontline.  The programme is going down really well in the business and is supporting a positive culture shift. Long may the partnership continue." Lindsay Muers, Assistant Director, People Services, Bernicia

At a Glance

Following a successful tendering exercise Positive About Inclusion was commissioned by Bernicia to provide ED&I support for the organisation. The support required included an ED&I health check and an ED&I education programme for the whole business – from the Board to frontline colleagues. All of the training workshops were required to be delivered in person at the various Bernicia offices from Berwick to Durham.

About the Client

Bernicia is a housing association that has been providing quality homes and services to people in the North East for over 50 years, earning a reputation as one of the country’s leading housing providers.

Challenges and Objectives

We began working with Bernicia in September 2021 and the first piece of work we completed was the ED&I health check. The health check provided the perfect assessment of a baseline position for both Bernicia and ourselves, helping to determine some of the key elements to be covered in the subsequent ED&I workshops.

The health check measured the eight essential elements to embedding ED&I within the social housing sector, from the role of the Board and senior leaders to ED&I in the supply chain. We examined the eight key elements from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective, identifying good practice as well as areas for improvement. The health check involved desktop research of relevant policies/strategies, decision-making processes and Bernicia’s presence on internal and external communication channels. To gather qualitative data, we carried out engagement activities and 1-2-1 discussions with key stakeholders.

The education programme needed to be tailored for different parts of the business whilst maintaining an element of consistency around the key ED&I messages. The challenge was to design workshop sessions that would provide effective and engaging training for groups with mixed levels of skills and experience working in different roles across the business. The sessions needed to be provided in a social housing context including relevant examples and stories to resonate with participants.

Solution

The health check established the current position for Bernicia and we collated our findings into a comprehensive report that articulated their ‘current state’ within the context of ED&I best practice, identifying actionable insight and recommendations to progress Bernicia’s ED&I journey.

For the education programme we designed and have (so far) delivered 15 workshops. These have included distinct workshops for the Board, Senior Leadership Team, Finance Team, Governance Team, People Services Team, Kingston Senior Leadership Team and the Colleague Voice Group. In addition, we have delivered half day workshops for mixed groups of frontline colleagues.

Impact

The workshop sessions have been really positively received. Here are just some of the comments participants shared on their feedback forms:

“Karen and Lucy create such a warm and safe environment, it really encourages everyone to contribute and get the most out of the session.”

“Very well structured session with a good interaction. It was great to be able to relate to some of the examples and learn from the more challenging ones. Thank you!”

“Excellent! Really engaging and learnt a lot to take forward. Much food for thought!”

“Very informative and engaging with real examples we could identify with. Feel a lot more confident, or at least how to have a balanced view when not so confident about a situation.”

“Well presented and explained. Great personal stories relevant to the sector.”

“An interesting session that makes you think about things another way. Engaging session given by lovely presenters.”

“Fabulous inclusive workshop, a lot of info learnt.”

Furthermore, the feedback gathered to date has captured how much participants enjoyed the workshops, with an average score of 9.22 out of 10, and how much more confident they felt about the subject, the average score being received being 8.87 out of 10.

We are delighted with the feedback received!

“I have worked with Karen and Lucy for over 12 months in relation to our ED&I Strategy and annual plan.  They are both extremely knowledgeable and personable and have been supportive whilst we have been working through an ED&I audit and specifically on the roll out of our ED&I education programme that covers all colleagues from Board to frontline. The programme is going down really well in the business and is supporting a positive culture shift. Long may the partnership continue.”

Lindsay Muers, Assistant Director, People Services, Bernicia

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