London and Quadrant (L&Q) housing association is currently going through a merger with East Thames.
The unification will make it the biggest housing association in London, increasing its stock to more than 100,000 properties and its staff to more than 2,500.
For Chris Gillam, the group’s HR director and chair of its equality and diversity working group, part of the challenge during this process is to ensure that in every one of its 18 offices across the city the firm is representative of that community.
Its entire workforce is made up of 60% women and 40% men but the figure is getting closer to 50-50 split thanks to its rapidly growing construction business.
However, the technical side of its operations, including construction, engineering and surveying is predominantly male employees.
Hiring the right construction staff is difficult enough when competing against private sector organisations like Barratt and Redrow. Fishing for female talent in a male-dominated pond is a different sport altogether.
L&Q, like many companies, faces the pyramid succession structure in leadership, where women become more and more scarce the higher up you go.
Out of six members of the executive team, Diane Hart, who is group director for L&Q housing, is the only woman. Gillam attributes this pyramid profile at L&Q to two factors.
She says: “Firstly, there’s a perception that you have to do more hours. Not having total control over working hours can be a barrier for some of our women because they’re predominantly carers for children and young families.”
To offset this challenge, L&Q offers a range of family-friendly policies that include flexible working and it has granted all requests over the last 12 months, Gillam says.
Find out more about L&Q’s Assistance with Studies programme and vote for the Business of the Year at Real Business.
Read our other six Business of the Year profiles below.