Board Diversity at the core of executive appointment

Home Group is one of the largest social housing providers in the UK with a turnover of £375 million and circa 3,000 staff. Headquartered in the North East of England, they provide long term integrated housing, health and social care. The business has a strong ethos based around the staff in the business. They are acutely focussed on diversity and were rated 27th in Stonewall top 100 employers list. Home Group have an extremely robust diversity policy and adhere to both the Altair Review and Rooney Rule. They wanted board diversity to be at the core of the recruitment process, thus enlisting NRG.

The Brief

The Executive Director Business Development for Home Group required an experienced Sales and Marketing Director. A significant challenge to this appointment was the current board diversity and dynamics of senior leadership team. Within the context of this assignment, where senior employees were predominantly of one race or sex, it was important for Home Group to evaluate the representation at board level.

Appointable candidates needed to be based in the North East but have the flexibility to travel nationally. Likewise, alignment to Home Group’s organisational corporate social values was essential.

The Approach

As part of the recruitment process, we reached as wide a demographic as possible to encourage individuals with different experiences and backgrounds to apply for this role. We created a compelling narrative around the role: its uniqueness, the future career opportunities and having the support of the Chief Executive to drive change.

By representing the values of Home Group to feature in the job adverts, job descriptions, candidate pack, microsite and assessment material, we created a consistent message in terms of what candidates can expect from the role. This consistency continued in how we assess quality candidates, not just on technical ability but also as ‘the right fit’.

The narrative was positioned to attract candidates via relocation where appropriate, proactively targeting and headhunting from outside the region who would bring greater diversity and range.

A high calibre advertising campaign was executed across NRG web channels, social media channels and niche marketing channels. A web microsite was designed to support candidate application and facilitate wider knowledge of the organisation and its its values.

A critical directive within the search was Home Group’s strong adherence to equality and diversity. Working under the guidance of the Rooney Rule and the Altair Review, a balanced and fair shortlist was produced with strong BAME candidate representation.


A longlist of 18 candidates (who were all competency interviewed for the position) was produced. These candidates were based both inside and outside the region but willing to be permanently based in the North East.

The longlist comprised many high-profile individuals from renowned blue-chip organisations who had a demonstrable track record in a CMO type position at board level.

In compliance with the Altair Review, NRG adopted a policy of committing to Home Group that they would be able to interview at least one BAME candidate. This policy did not lower any standards and did not give someone from a BAME background the guarantee of the job. All longlisted and shortlisted candidates fulfilled the credentials and met the criteria of the position. Whilst implementing this, we ensured that a BAME candidate should not be shortlisted at the expense of someone who is as – or more – qualified.

We were also extremely specific that our process should not result in any positive discrimination. From the longlist, 6 candidates were further refined by suitability and quality to shortlist. They were then presented to the client, who chose to interview all 6.

Following the first round of interviews, all 6 candidates were invited to attend a panel assessment day which included rigorous interviewing, profiling and presentations. 1 candidate was offered – and accepted – the position within 24 hours of this final assessment.

The Appointment

The appointed candidate was both female and BAME. They also scored higher in every assessment and interview criteria than any other applicant. NRG were recognised by Home Group for the quality and depth of the recruitment process, particularly adhering to their concerns around board diversity.

NRG were subsequently engaged to manage executive director level search assignments for Home Group including the successful appointment of a Development Director.