At Together Housing having Equality and Diversity imbedded within each of our business areas is important to us. That’s why we have a dedicated Equality and Diversity Manager to ensure we consistently work towards opening up and creating equal opportunities for all of our staff.

Tahir Idris has worked at Together Housing for the last five years, four of which have been spent as the Group’s Equality and Diversity Manager. Not originally having planned on working in Equality and Diversity, he found the chance to make a real impact too good to miss.

Below, he tells us a bit more about his career to date and how he came to work in this niche area:

What is an Equality and Diversity Manager?

A voice of conscience and an agitator for change.

Why is your role important to Together Housing?

It’s the law to not discriminate! It’s also the right thing to do and housing is a sector that has very strong ethics at its heart, so it’s inevitable that we want to make sure the values of diversity and inclusion are embedded. Not only does this make us a better place to work, a better provider of housing, it also ensures we perform better; that’s been proven time and again. It’s a win-win.

Why do you work in Equality and Diversity?

Well, I would say I work in Housing not diversity and I have done so for 33 years. The reason I work in housing and in particular this area is because it’s so satisfying and varied.

What advice would you give to someone interested in Equality and Diversity?

You can practice Equality and Diversity in literally every job so choose a career you like and live the values of inclusion.

What do you like and/or dislike about your job?

I like watching change happen and encouraging people to be themselves at work. However, what  I don’t like is the negative baggage and eye rolling when you mention equality and diversity from some quarters and hearing the word woke!!

What kinds of work does your job entail?

Influencing; changing hearts and minds. It’s mostly strategic, which I love.

Tell us a little bit about your career history?

Civil Service for a few years then Trainee in Housing Management. That led to a roller coaster career path, setting up the first culturally diverse Housing association in East Lancashire, hob-knobbing with very senior people, MP’s, Ministers and the like. I was in my twenties still. After leaving that association on a high after 15 years, I’ve had various and varied roles in housing since. I’m also on 2 housing association boards.

What was your first job?

I was a Benefits Officer in the Civil Service, if you don’t count the casual Christmas card packing that I did when desperate and out of work after college.

Did you go university or what qualifications do you have to have to work in Equality and Diversity?

Nope, didn’t go to university, I got fed up with studying by my A Levels. But when I joined the housing sector, I got my learning head back on and I studied the Chartered Institute of Housing Professional Qualification on day release. The hardest thing I’ve done at work- like doing 6 A Levels but with a full-time job and family.

It is possible to qualify in Equality & Diversity but your experience- and attitude- are likely more important considerations. As is the ability to influence and make change happen- winning hearts and minds.

What are your future aspirations?

To (eventually) leave a lasting legacy of inclusion at Together Housing and be taking on a new challenge to keep my brain active.

What has been your career highlight?

Passing my Chartered Institute of Housing Professional Qualification in extreme circumstances; the stress made me ill but I’m proud I put the effort in at the time because it was part of what launched a fabulously satisfying career.

If you didn’t work in Equality and Diversity, what would you be doing?

Designing cars was my dream job, and I was offered a great opportunity to make it come true, but my dad put a stop to that pretty quickly. I had to be a solicitor or doctor! Neither of which I achieved.

However, I did end up with a truly satisfying career. There’s no doubt that helping others who may not be so lucky in life is what gives me satisfaction and gets me out of bed. So I’m happy.