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GMHP partners BOOST diversity in the housing sector

A collaboration between Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) will BOOST employment opportunities for ethnic minority employees in the housing sector, enabling them to enter leadership roles.

Following a successful pilot last year, GMHP recently launched the first year of a three-year programme, known as BOOST, which aims to address, change, and challenge the underrepresentation of ethnic minority employees, and remove unfair barriers to leadership positions to create lasting cultural change in workplaces.

This pioneering programme is designed to challenge GMHP, a partnership of leading housing providers in the Greater Manchester area, to develop more empowering, long-term solutions and inclusive career pathways, preventing staff from having to try to ‘fit’ into existing structures that may not always work for them. This will level the playing field for anyone who wants to progress their career in the sector.

Chief Executive of Southway Housing Trust and Lead of the BOOST Programme Karen Mitchell said, “Research findings from last year’s BAME Leadership Programme unearthed obstacles and challenges our ethnic minority colleagues face in their career progression, which the partnership is committed to removing. This should not be happening, ever, but especially today, and this really pushes us on to drive the change needed in our sector. I am pleased with the engagement we have seen with the project so far and look forward to seeing its ambitions further realised in year two.”

The pilot programme identified and addressed issues, which led to two of the 13 mentees from the first-year cohort being promoted and progressing on their leadership journey. The other participants found that mentoring had a valuable impact on their respective careers.

Launch Event

During the launch event on 22nd March at Great Places Housing Group head offices new participants on the programme heard testimonies from mentees, mentors and change champions from the pilot programme. Sessions were held on why organisational change was needed and research findings were discussed.

GMHP Chair, Charlie Norman said, “This year we will build on the work of the first year of the programme and we use evidence-based research to do this. During this second phase we will be including a change project via change champions. Each mentor-mentee partnership will identify one change project that will enable us to unearth lived experiences and organisational barriers that stop our ethnic minority colleagues from accessing leadership positions and thriving in the workplace. We want to create lasting change and attract talent from within and outside of the housing sector that is representative of GMHP tenants. The launch event was so inspiring, and I have huge hopes for a better and more inclusive leadership culture now and into the future.”


Professor Julia Rouse from Manchester Metropolitan University said, “Talking about race at work makes people feel nervous and that can stop us tackling the reality that ethnic minority colleagues face unfair barriers to progression. The Greater Manchester housing sector is showing real leadership by investing in a disruptive innovation process that builds the confidence and power to create organisational change so that ethnic minority leaders can emerge and thrive. By developing a movement of allies, we seek to fundamentally change the culture of social housing so that the leadership is more diverse and better able to serve the diverse lives of tenants.”

Professor Julia Rouse added, “Our disruptive mentoring project provides both career coaching to ethnic minority colleagues and creates a space to talk with a mentor, change champion and senior leaders about barriers to progression. At the same time, leaders are reflecting on how stereotypes affect their own thinking and committing real energy into change projects.”

The three-year BOOST programme is being funded by Innovate UK. This is their first programme working with a partnership of businesses across a region and is a trailblazer to drive change across sectors.

Participating GMHP members for this year are:
First Choice Homes Oldham, ForHousing, Great Places Housing Group, The Guinness Partnership, Irwell Valley Homes, Jigsaw Homes Group, MSV Housing, One Manchester, The Riverside Group, RBG, Salix Homes, Southway Housing trust, Stockport Homes, L&Q Group, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group and Your Housing

We want to create lasting change and attract talent from within and outside of the housing sector that is representative of GMHP tenants. I have huge hopes for a better and more inclusive leadership culture now and into the future.