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February 5, 2013 / Housing e-Academy

Should boards recruit from outside the housing profession?

A blog post out today by Group Company Secretary and Executive Director at Bromford Group, Philippa Jones, suggests that to be a board member of a housing association, you do not have to have a housing background. The article addresses the fact that housing associations are no longer little voluntary organisations; they are social businesses operating in a risky world and governance has to catch up.

So, where does the argument for the addition of non-housing professionals to housing boards come from? Philippa states that Bromford’s board has a number of objectives: to uphold their principles and approve their strategy; to ensure their leadership team is working effectively and has access to the resources it needs; to ensure that risks to the business are identified and controlled; to monitor their delivery, performance and financial viability; and, to be accountable to residents and the community.

Bromford want a breadth of wisdom, expertise and experience on their board and they don’t expect this to come just from the housing sector. Philippa states that ‘[Bromford] already have a leadership team so we want to complement rather than mirror their skills’.

And they certainly practice what they preach. Oke Eleazu is director of customer service strategy at Sainsbury’s and joined Bromford as a non-executive director in order to give some of his experience back to an organisation such as Bromford. Philippa states that ‘professionals like Eleazu bring real value in the wealth of knowledge and new experiences that we may not have within our business’.

With this shift in direction, it is hardly surprising that the level of interest in e-learning courses such as ‘An Introduction to Governance for Social Housing Providers’ is at an all time high. Courses such as this allow individuals who are not from a housing background to gain the basic level of knowledge and confidence required to effectively sit on a housing board. An Introduction to Governance for Social Housing Providers goes into detail about what the Social Housing Regulator expects from boards, what a board member should expect from a good governance structure, how boards can achieve greatness, public duties and more. Find out more here.

But what do you think? Do you think all board members should have a housing background or is variety the way forward? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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