Race Equality Matters is pleased to announce that Riverside has been awarded Bronze Trailblazer status!


78% of our Trailblazer judges voted for social housing organisation Riverside to receive the Bronze Trailblazer status and 67% also said they would consider it the type of organisation they would like to work for, demonstrating the inclusivity and positive work culture they have. They applauded their application for demonstrating evidence of action taken in tackling racial inequality and the impact this had.


Actions and initiatives


Development of the Ethnically Diverse Talent Strategy


Riverside has an Ethnically Diverse Talent Strategy with several ways in which they try to support ethnically diverse talent entering or progressing within the business. Their Ethnically Diversity colleague network EMpower works closely with their ethnically diverse colleagues, People Services and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager to make important changes and create new opportunities.

These include a guaranteed interview scheme for ethnically diverse applicants or colleagues applying for managerial or senior roles and/or roles with a salary of £35,000 and above, which correlates with the desire to improve their ethnicity pay gap.

Furthermore, they did a full audit of their recruitment and HR processes and policies, launching a ‘recruiting to potential’ scheme and workshops, with materials for hiring managers to tackle this and to recruit based on candidates’ potential for the role rather than simply on past work experience alone. They have also trained ethnically diverse volunteers to sit on interview panels.

In addition, they have focused on the progression of internal ethnically diverse colleagues, ring fencing 5 places per year on their GEM graduate programme. The places for internal colleagues do not require colleagues to be graduates.


Impact and Ethnically diverse colleague endorsement


In order for Riverside to successfully develop and implement its Ethnically Diverse Talent Strategy as well as measure its impact, they:


  • Formed a working group for the project with representatives from EMpower who attended weekly working group sessions from the formulation of the Ethnically Diverse Talent Strategy and throughout the delivery
  • Sought feedback via surveys and listening sessions and implemented suggestions throughout and had regular listening sessions with colleague network members and action proposals were shared with those with lived experience at EMpower meetings
  • 75% of candidates decided to take part in the guaranteed interview scheme when making their application, which shows an increase in willingness to share their ethnicity data
  • The guaranteed interview scheme alongside other positive action within their talent strategy has had positive results as shown in the data over the last 2 years – they have seen a significant increase in the percentage of ethnically diverse colleagues in the middle/lower and upper/middle pay levels
  • They also saw positive results in their colleague surveys, with engagement, advocacy, pride and loyalty scores being higher for ethnically diverse colleagues compared to other ethnic groups


Feedback from an Ethnically Diverse Panel


Our Trailblazer judges applauded the Ethnically Diverse guaranteed interview scheme as “very bold” and said it “should be applauded”, with comments on their application for showing “very good evidence and clear plans backed up by good data” and a “good focus on talent attraction and graduate programmes”.


Judges were also impressed with the level of intentionality within the scheme and could see that Riverside had taken a lot of time to think about and administer the scheme to reap positive and inclusive results. Additionally, their application showed how they want to ensure that learning and progression is a possibility for ethnically diverse colleagues, which promotes a sense of equality and belonging in the workplace.


Another commented that “the extent to which they worked with colleagues to create the recruitment strategy, Information roadshows, and critical conversations all showed a real commitment to learn from what they were doing throughout the process and not just the end result.”


Next Steps…


Riverside’s future plans for continuing to tackle racial inequality include:

  • Continuing to make the attraction, retention, and development of diverse colleagues a priority
  • Delivering the new People and ED&I action plan covering the next 3 years
  • Increasing the pool of diverse talent within the market and they hope if it’s successful, it is maybe a scheme other housing organisations may want to replicate
  • Launching Skills Boost sessions for their Ethnically Diverse colleagues as part of the EMpower colleague network
  • They are looking at more holistic approaches to their graduate and guaranteed interview schemes where colleagues are taken through a mentorship programme, are supported with applications and interview techniques and have the chance to gain experience in the roles they are applying for


Follow Riverside’s Lead: Become a Trailblazer

If your organisation is driving change for Race Equality and you can demonstrate impact, endorsement from ethnically diverse employees and share future plans; register your interest for the next round of Trailblazers.

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