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Homes England invite DCS Chair to engage on 2020/24 strategy


The public sector continues to be a critical client with emerging needs, that often require a diverse set of solutions. At the core of all public sector ‘buying power’ remains an over-arching moral duty to deliver the MEAT [i.e. most economically advantageous tender]. For many, this has generally concluded with an explicit review of price alone [or cost of project] being the biggest driver, often at the expense of everyother possible project determinant, including other qualitative aspects. In 2020, and specifically in a post COVID world, price is simply no longer the best judge of value and/or returns on capital employed 'ROCE'. In fact, the emergence of other ethical investment opportunities e.g. green bonds, has meant that Clients [no more than those in and across the public sector] are more desirous of social value [as defined by the CIH], proportionate representation, optimal equity and inclusion along with environmental sustainability & innovation, at its core.

The team at Homes England, chaired by Simon Dudley and led [both operationally and strategically] by Nick Walkley CEO, have decided to raise the ante as an exemplar publicly funded contracting authority and create a new challenge both for themselves and the wider housing sector, where "....we want our commitments to deliver systematic organisational and cultural change, as well as positively impact the industry and our communities...."

Just like the RICS [amidst their own and most recent affirmation of public facing commitment to diversity, specifically ethnicity, declared on 13 August 2020]; and guided by their most recent publication, Homes England are about to embark upon on a new venture of equity and inclusion, with an apparent willingness to be challenged on their own future performance.

Early interventions, facilitated by Begona Fernandez Alepuz and led by the Homes England D&I Manager, Julie Musesoglu translated into an initial yet informed conversation with key members of the Homes England BAME Network. A critical insight was offered by DCS Founder and Chair, Bola Abisogun OBE, who began with his own journey and #livedexperience as a minority owned supplier in pursuit of Supplier Diversity commitments, proffered at that time, by the corporate world [i.e. during the early 2000’s] and in particular, the UK public sector. So, on the back of a successful first discussion, further conversations were held around ‘a 1st attempt’ by Homes England to table their first ever strategic approach to ED&I, which was officially published by them on 29 July 2020; refer to the Homes England Annual Equality Diversion & Inclusion Report, 2020/21.

However, unlike in the US, the UK has often lagged behind in terms of targetted commitments of commercial spend with a diverse set of businesses and in turn has frequently lost out to much of the intrinsic value and innovation, often located at lower tiers within the Supply Chain structure. Notwithstanding and with the onslaught of digital transformation and newly emerging ‘Dynamic Business Models’ most having a major impact on the timely delivery of capital projects, new ideas are urgently being sought from all members of the Supply Chain. To this end, the demonstrable commercial successes [and failures] of Urbanis – the commercial project management business – founded by Bola in 2003, have largely been presented as a result of innovative proposals patterned to the needs of public sector clients that specifically required them to, at the very least, shape their procurement process(es) to be more ‘inclusive’ and attractive to smaller businesses [SME’s] including micro-businesses. The inherent need to remain cognisant in the key issues that affect and differentiate these types of business, is as critical as it has ever been to ensuring that the widest possible talent pool is engaged to deliver capital projects. This poignant and mission critical objective, in a post-COVID environment, together with the current recessionary backdrop, has never been more important to the public sector. With the above in mind, it was heartening to learn of Homes England’s clear intention and Board level commitment towards building upon recent successes and moving more towards a totally inclusive and representative UK government agency. The spirit of their future intentions was also recently captured by Building Magazine, under the guise of Supplier Diversity

Recent revelations by Central Government that future funding for Affordable Housing would be increased [seen here], and with upto 25% being predetermined and earmarked to deliver MMC [in consultation with and under the stewardship of Dr Mark Farmer, UK Govt Champion for MMC]; it has also been observed that Homes England are keen to engender a complete review of how they procure their core product(s) and services, amidst a wider and more dynamic approach to the timely delivery of their ‘core’ product, housing.

Obviously, it was a pleasant surprise for the team at DiverseCity Surveyors, to receive kind invitation from Homes England, requesting that Bola, as part of a wider panel, speak with them [and their staff], as a first step towards developing a progressive and sustainable dialogue that we remain happy to support.

Moreover, whilst these are extremely challenging times for the construction industry, housing sector and built environment professions, one thing remains abundantly clear and unequivocal. The time to be bold, innovate and 'systemically' disrupt has actually arrived; juxtapositioned amongst the established norms, many of which have stifled progress and productivity for many decades. In pursuit of the most economically advantageous tender OR commercially viable solution(s) as well as a timeless legacy, all Clients will be required [and duly advised] to deploy an appropriately diverse set of voices, opinions, skillsets and perspectives; recognising that it is ‘great people’ and not only ‘great process(es)’ that achieve the ultimate ‘great success(es)’.

It’s time to act with purposeful intent and empathetic leadership.

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