Since the watershed of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020 and the subsequent global protests, there has been a step change in terms of institutional responses in the private and public sectors around the discourses of Anti-Racism, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion; however, without the social housing sector’s united commitment there is a clear risk that action on this core value and moral issue will become diluted. This must not become the reality in social housing.
In June 2020 BMELL made its own ‘Addressing Structural Inequalities Statement’
As BME led housing organisations, within our leadership we have CEO’s who have their own personal narratives, on BME London Landlords board who have experienced having to navigating systemic racism within and outside the housing sector. We would fail the communities we work with if we failed to make public some of our own individual experiences. Our proximity to BME communities gives us that responsibility to set out and make the case for appropriate solutions moving forward.
We believe that it is an imperative that the social housing sector commits long term to developing Anti-Racist practices, distinct from Equality, Diversity and Inclusion to play its part in changing UK society. By signing up to S.H.A.R.P., Housing Associations can make a commitment to the necessary action required within their organisations and utilise the S.H.A.R.P. pledge framework for support to build an ongoing culture of accountability, that can ensure that registered social landlords take demonstrable steps as organisations to focus on eliminating Racism from its practices and processes which ultimately shapes organisational culture, operational management and service delivery.
We expect to officially launch S.H.A.R.P. in February 2022 and will be holding a series of pre-launch roundtables where more details will be shared around how organisations can sign up to S.H.A.R.P. and how they can access the resources connected with the pledge that will enable housing organisations to develop and evidence their progress in committing to Anti-Racism.
There have been good examples of progress on EDI that have taken place within the sector with the National Housing Federation using their role to facilitate EDI discussions, working parties and the development of a sector wide EDI data tool. External to the NHF EDI data tool which focuses on the make-up of our organisations, there are substantial disparities when it comes to race in society, where the pay gap, health inequalities, the treatment of people of colour in the criminal justice system, the labour market, education, and even access to clean air and not least housing conditions that impact many of our primary stakeholders.
Now that we have gone as far as collating the sector’s baseline data, S.H.A.R.P. the Social Housing Anti-Racism Pledge, along with its training and consultancy support offer will provide an opportunity for a sector-wide commitment to an action framework on Anti-Racism on all aspects of social housing’s sphere of influence, engagement and impact.
We believe Social Housing in its entirety is an agent for change, and we believe S.H.A.R.P. Social Housing Anti-Racism Pledge, will enable the sector to demonstrate that commitment to change through action.