Working in Partnership with Tpas to Support Landlords to meet the National Engagement Standards
Earlier this year Tpas launched the third edition of their National Engagement Standards, outlining the 7 standards and outcomes that housing associations should deliver to maximise their tenant engagement. Our Director, Karen Faulkner, has written the following article reflecting on how this framework is strongly aligned with equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
The Tpas model shows the 7 standards set in the context of culture, recognising that behaviour and attitudes set the foundations where positive engagement outcomes take place. And this is the same for EDI – a culture with a well embedded, active pursuit of inclusion creates a sense of belonging where tenants and staff are not just asked to the party but are welcome to dance!
In my view, each of the Tpas National Engagement Standards has an aspect of EDI to consider::
- Governance & Transparency – the Regulator of Social Housing has stated previously that poor engagement could indicate to them that a landlord has poor Governance, a clear commitment from the RSH of the importance of engagement. And so too the National Housing Federation have made clear their commitment to EDI recently with their recent insights report and commitment to improve the approach to EDI within their own organisation and throughout the sector. Like engagement, EDI is gaining even more momentum as a key priority and landlords must actively commit to improve their approach.
- Scrutiny – it is a regulatory requirement for landlords to facilitate resident-led reviews of their organisation and increasing the EDI understanding of your scrutiny panel can bring great benefits. We have had the pleasure of working with a number of scrutiny panels in recent months. Increasing their overall understanding of EDI issues has resulted in an improved ability to scrutinise their landlord’s service and performance.
- Business & Strategy – in the social housing sector, fairness, transparency and robust decision-making form a fundamental part of business planning and strategy. This is where tools such as Equality Impact Assessments can bring great benefits. These assessments provide a structured way to assess the impact of what a landlord does on their tenants, staff and the wider community.
- Complaints – both complaint handling and EDI are fundamentally all about people. How a landlord deals with complaints provides an invaluable insight into their customer culture and this will continue to come under further scrutiny as the Housing Ombudsman extends its influence over the sector. Increasing staff understanding of EDI issues results in better complaint handling, reducing the resource needed to effectively deal with complaints and increasing the learning opportunities from this feedback. It’s a win-win.
- Information & Communication – many of the delegates who attend our EDI training courses take the opportunity created in that safe space to share their lived experience. Without fail, when their experience has been a good one, that is due in no small part to the ability of the person they were engaging with to listen, understand and communicate well.
- Resources for Engagement – the most valuable resource for effective engagement is your tenants. The standard highlights that involved tenants should be offered timely, relevant training and feedback from tenants groups we have worked with shows just how useful they have found increasing their overall understanding of EDI issues. Involved tenants and the staff they work alongside place a high value on feeling confident and comfortable that they are using the right language and terminology, and are representing their landlord and themselves well.
- Community & Wider Engagement – this section of the standard asks landlords to consider if they have an appropriate menu of engagement opportunities that reflects the resident profile and responds to different needs in relation to the different equality strands. It would be difficult for a landlord to assess their achievement of this objective without first considering and more importantly, fully understanding the needs of the diverse communities they serve.
As the focus on equality and ‘doing the right thing’ continues to increase, so too does the political and regulatory agreement that resident and community engagement is the right thing to do. And getting both of these right can only be a good thing for all involved.
Karen Faulkner is a Director and co-founder of Positive About Inclusion, a registered social enterprise providing bespoke equality, diversity and inclusion training and consultancy solutions to support organisations on their inclusion journey. Working in partnership with Tpas, Positive About Inclusion have delivered a range of training and consultancy services which have been tailored to reflect an organisation’s vision and values, and supported landlords and their involved tenants.to achieve engagement objectives.