Diversity and Inclusion – a chance to celebrate our differences

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) touches everyone, from our background and life experiences to the things that shape who we are and what we believe in.

For us at Aster, we strongly believe in treating everyone with respect, being an ally and creating a safe space so that we can all be honest about who we are, if we want to.

Our Group CEO, Bjorn Howard is part of the National Housing Federation’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion network. We’ve recently announced plans to merge with Enham Trust, a disability charity that we’re proud to have strong connections with and who were instrumental in us achieving our recent Disability Confident Level 3 Leader status.

As members of the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (ENEI) we benchmark our inclusive practises and benefit from ENEI’s Inclusive Leadership expertise, as well as recently launching our own Active Inclusion sessions, and guidance on being an effective Aster Ally.

Diverse customer base

We know that a diverse workforce that reflects our communities means we can provide a better customer experience. Our workforce helps us to do more for our customers and understand their needs as individuals.

We’ve invited customers to tell their own stories through mobile storytelling workshops with one of our Aster FoundationInc. cohort – Our Version Media. As well as gaining valuable skills, our customers will be empowered to tell their story to help and inspire others. You can read more about this work here.

Reverse mentoring

I’ve been lucky enough to take part in a project around reverse mentoring. Leaders were paired with colleagues from across the business and had the opportunity to share personal insights and take time to appreciate what makes us different. Together we were challenged to reflect on some of our own perceptions and explore subjects around diversity. On the back of the success of the project, reverse mentoring is now included in our rolling mentoring programmes offered to colleagues.

Through our Inclusion Passport, colleagues can share a host of information about their life, from their caring responsibilities or preferred communication style to their favoured working environment. This helps us build a picture of their unique experience at work.

Inclusive networks

We launched our LGBTQ+ network in 2020 and became Stonewall Diversity Champions, which ensures there’s a great community for colleagues to come together and we’ve seen this network go from strength to strength.

We’ve since broadened our colleague networks to include a Carers network, Gender network, and Race and Heritage network alongside our existing LGBTQ+ and Disability Confident groups, and they are already proving instrumental in helping deliver innovative approaches to inclusion, as well as being valued safe spaces.

As part of our D&I work, we’ve continued to explore how we can focus our policies and practices to ensure we embed fairness and inclusion throughout our business. This has been strengthened by the creation of an Inclusion Steering Group.

Menopause friendly organisation

We’re among the first companies in the country to be accredited as a menopause friendly organisation and we were thrilled to win Best Support Group at the Menopause Friendly Employer Awards 2022.

Looking ahead we’ll continue to enhance our working practises, particularly around our recruitment, onboarding leadership and overall learning and development offerings to ensure D&I is truly embedded. We’re also working to become a ‘neurodiverse-smart’ organisation, in partnership with Lexxic.

With all that we’ve achieved, and all we have planned, it’s an exciting time to be involved in our D&I journey.

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