By Chyrel Brown, Chief Operating Officer, One Housing

In recent years, Pride month has been celebrated by nearly every UK housing association, but making the aims of Pride meaningful all year round is both more challenging and constructive.

At One Housing we’ve been on a continuing journey to think about how we support LGBT+ customers and colleagues.  The conversations that events like Pride spark can potentially inspire us to do better in both our workforce offer and our operational performance.

At One Housing, our approach to LGBT+ issues is guided by our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group, which includes the chair of our LGBTQ+ Network.  This group co-created our new Our Equality Diversity and Inclusion Strategy centred on ensuring staff can bring their authentic selves to work.

We want all my colleagues to be comfortable, valued and respected. It might sound obvious, but happy staff who feel connected to our broader mission and know they will be supported in bringing forward their ideas for addressing common challenges and delivering better outcomes for our customers. But it goes deeper.

Fundamentally, listening to a greater array of voices at all leadership levels means we can develop stronger corporate plans, better suited to the diverse customer groups we serve.  Our ED&I approach is a huge part of the culture we aim to create, centred on creating new creative delivery partnerships with sector groups, customers and public sector partners.

An example of a new approach to achieving good results for the LGBT+ community is our work, alongside Tonic Housing and the GLA, on launching the UK’s first LGBT+ affirming retirement community, [email protected] .

The project flowed from the recognition that those responsible for providing housing to people later in life cannot ignore the clear needs of older LGBT+ people to live in supportive communities where they can be their own authentic selves and access mutual support.  We hope that this project can serve as a model for similar schemes right around the UK.

Given the theme of Pride, this year celebrated the diversity of the movement, with #AllOurPride being the main theme, it seems appropriate to reflect on the distinct needs of the older LGBT+ community.

This year it feels like One Housing has also been celebrating the joyous side of LGBT+ culture.  We participated in the London Pride event itself, with a float in the parade and a host of celebrations for staff. I’m personally ecstatic to be part of a parade that I’ve enjoyed from the crowd for many years.

Winning the Diva awards ‘brand of the year’ was another moment where the whole organisation came together to celebrate our work on LGBT+ issues. These moments are flashes of glitz and positivity that reflect the progress we are making and I’d like to thank everyone involved in making them a reality.

Just as the 50th anniversary of the original Pride march is an opportunity to reflect on how far the UK has come, and how far it still has to go on LGBT+ inclusivity, as we celebrate this year’s milestones, One Housing is committed to pushing forward with our ED&I strategy and ensuring next year we can honestly say progress has been made.