Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report

Our colleague groups


Our groups

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We have four very active colleague groups, EMpower, Enable, Pride and WiSH, run by colleagues and each one supported by a sponsor at Executive Director level.

The achievements from our colleague groups demonstrate their commitment to an equal, inclusive, diverse and empowering workplace for all colleagues.

EMpower logo

Executive Sponsor: Jehan Weerasinghe
Chair: Allison Cuddy

EMpower is a forum for ethnically diverse colleagues to improve and promote diversity and inclusion opportunities across the group. Providing information, guidance and support to enable colleagues to fulfil their potential and a platform for sharing ideas, concerns and best practice.

Riverside colleagues from the EMpower staff group at the group's AGM

Achievements 2022/23

  • Participated in the:
    • GEM programme, enabling graduates to improve their career prospects within Riverside and the wider housing sector
    • Greater Manchester Housing Provider’s ‘Championing Change for Boost Culture Leadership’ programme. A unique partnership and research programme run in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University that aims to address the underrepresentation of ethnically diverse employees in leadership positions in the housing sector.
  • Continued to target representation in our upper quartile roles with a particular focus on more senior roles and creating a pipeline of talent in our upper middle roles.
  • Collaborated with our recruitment team to ensure we are attracting talented colleagues through our Talent Acquisition Strategy, running listening sessions with our colleagues to improve experience and provide opportunities for growth and progression.
  • We have discontinued our use of the term ‘BAME’ and now refer to colleagues as ‘ethnically diverse’, following government guidance.

“As the chair of EMpower, I am really passionate about listening to our members’ voices and taking on board what’s important to them in the workplace. I am keen to provide opportunities to members who feel they don’t have a voice and I enable them to fully participate in our meetings and events, so everyone feels included.

We share ideas with our Equality Diversity and Inclusion Best Practice Group, which discusses all things ED&I and ensures we make, and carry out, effective decisions.”

Allison, Chair

Enable logo

Executive Sponsor: Ian Gregg
Chair: Stephen Shrimpton

Enable offers assistance and information to all colleagues who experience short or long-term disability or illness. Its aim is to influence internal policy and procedures, support managers and enable colleagues to carry out their roles regardless of any impairment, mental health, or hidden disability.

An Evolve operative stand in front of an information pull up about Riverside's Enable staff group.

Achievements 2022/23

  • We have conducted a review of all policies and procedures with a direct and unequal impact on colleagues with a disability or long-term health condition. They are now mitigated against through equality impact assessments.
  • We have supported colleague-led peer support groups for cancer, menopause, parents, mental health, carers, men and bereavement. These groups enable colleagues to share experiences and support others who may be experiencing similar circumstances.
  • Worked with IT colleagues to produce accessibility features for conditions such as dyslexia when working with Microsoft applications and to provide backgrounds for colleagues to use in virtual meetings to make other colleagues aware of a disability or impairment that may affect their participation in the meeting.
  • Promoted and celebrated regular national and global disability awareness dates, communicating to all colleagues the need to increase our awareness and understanding of Neurodiversity and the impacts it has on colleagues.

“It’s been extremely rewarding to take up the position as Chair of such a long running group. A role that I am enjoying. 

Having a disability or short or long-term illness can bring about many challenges. We don’t want the workplace to be one of those places. We work closely with other areas of the business to make it as easy as possible for anybody to be able carry out their role, without having to face any barriers due to the situation they find themselves in. We want our people to thrive.

We are there to help colleagues whenever they may need it.  Knowing we are there to help each other is so valuable and meaningful.”

Stephen, Chair 

Pride logo

Executive Sponsor: John Glenton
Co-Chairs: Michael Gill and Joanne Murray

Pride is here for promoting inclusivity in the workplace and supporting all of our LGBTQIA+ colleagues. The group facilitates policy development, raises awareness and advocacy for LGBTQIA+ issues, provides confidential support and guidance to colleagues and managers. The allies’ network, Friends of Pride, also plays a significant role in supporting Pride and participating in events.

Colleagues at a bed every night LGBTQ+ service in Manchester hold Pride flags.

Achievements 2022/23

  • Held the first joint Annual General Meeting, aligning our initiatives with the needs of our different communities.
  • Expanded our reach and strengthened colleague relationships by forming a new committee.
  • We have created the Five Pillars of Pride, focusing on support, career development, voice and representation, engagement and influence.
  • Prioritised engagement by delivering sessions on LGBTQIA+ topics, where colleagues can share their personal stories and experiences, encouraging a culture of shared learning and growth.
  • Commissioned trans awareness training by Christian Owens of GenderSpace, a former police detective who has lived experience as a trans man.
  • Participated in events such as Pride, UK Black Pride and IDAHOBIT, celebrating diversity and advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights.
  • Marched proudly in multiple Prides this year including the 50th anniversary London Pride Parade.

“We genuinely enjoy our roles as Co-Chairs, meeting people, sharing ideas and contributing to a greater purpose that enables people to bring their authentic self to work. 

“It is so rewarding to recognise and contribute towards the bigger picture and the interplay of equity, diversity and inclusion in in policies, training, recruitment and more.   

 “Our value as an LGBTQIA+ colleague group in Riverside has only gone from strength to strength as we have already been able to deliver on some great events, members meetings, training and reaching several of our strategic objectives.

 “Being able to create safe spaces, opportunities and experiences that allow our colleagues to share their passion, knowledge and understanding on areas that effect our LGBTQIA+ community and our fellow colleague groups is hugely important as we strive towards a more equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace.”

Joanne and Michael, Co-Chairs

WiSH logo

Executive Director: Cris McGuinness
Co-Chairs: Stella Hughes and Gemma Oxenham

WiSH (Women in Social Housing) is open to all colleagues and provides a safe environment for women to meet, share experiences and discuss priorities. The aim of WiSH is to tackle gender inequality within the workplace, promote gender equality across the organisation, especially the progression of women, and to provide and promote support, advice and knowledge on all aspects of gender.

A Riverside colleague sits with a customer and her baby

Achievements 2022/23

  • We have undertaken a review of parental leave for all colleagues. Its aim it to enhance the current offer to provide support and guidance for colleagues and customers at every stage, from pre-pregnancy through to parenthood.
  • We have developed safe travel guidelines for colleagues in collaboration with our People Services team so that every colleague feels safe during business travel and knows who to contact if things go wrong.
  • Delivered training sessions on resilience in the workplace.
  • We have held inspirational and successful events:
    • during Maternal Mental Health Week to raise awareness of related issues
    • on International Women’s Day with our Chief Executive, Carol Matthews, and our Chief Financial Officer, Cris McGuiness, sharing their experiences of leadership as women.

“I really enjoy being the Co-Chair of WiSH, as I am passionate about ensuring there is gender equality across all areas of the working environment. I was attracted to the role because of the opportunity to drive and champion support for colleagues across Riverside with regard to gender related issues. I have benefitted from the support of other colleague networks myself and so I understand the positive impact they can have for colleagues and the organisation.”

Stella, Co-Chair