The performance of any business is driven by a multitude of factors, one of the most important being the people employed. Building a diverse workforce is key to improving business performance and customer satisfaction and creating an environment where everyone is given the opportunity to progress and feel part of what we do.

Jane Ashcroft

Jane Ashcroft

At Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for people in later life, we have seen this first hand as we continue to build a vibrant, inclusive and productive work environment.

I am proud to say that three of our most senior positions are held by women: Sarah Jones, our chief financial officer, Kate Smith, our executive director of business services, and myself as chief executive have all pursued our own career goals by working in an environment where we feel heard and respected.

Anchor has encouraged each of us to reach for the positions we are in through mentoring, support and understanding.

It is this ethos that we have sought to harness through a number of initiatives that aim to increase diversity among our colleagues and that help our equality, diversity and inclusion manager to ensure we have a permanent, strategic focus on issues surrounding inclusion.

Wellbeing strategy

Anchor’s wellbeing strategy focuses on raising awareness of common, wide-ranging issues that affect women in their professional and personal lives.

Many women manage the impact that menopause has on their day-to-day life while others experience the emotional turmoil of going through fertility treatment.

Both can be deeply distressing and can have a knock-on effect on women’s careers. Our partnership with Fertifa is helping support women in our workforce to manage these issues.

Office meeting

Source: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

In addition to achieving a great gender balance among our colleagues, we are also driving towards greater diversity in terms of race, ethnicity and disabilities.

Mentoring has been a key part of this and I have been fortunate to have been mentored by some truly inspirational colleagues. One of my first mentoring sessions was with an employee from our race and ethnicity colleague network embRACE. She helped to broaden and deepen my thinking, which is why we implemented a reverse mentoring programme at Anchor.

This mentoring is also available through our colleague disability network, through which I have enjoyed many extremely rewarding and educating experiences.

Anchor also operates a flexible working policy to ensure people have a greater work-life balance, and a colleague assistance helpline is accessible 24/7 to provide colleagues with extra support if needed.

Our progress in the field of equality, diversity and inclusion has not gone unnoticed by the industry. Anchor has recently been awarded ‘Silver Status’ by the Inclusive Employers Standard, a testament to the incredible hard work and commitment of our colleagues in building an inclusive organisation.

Diversity brings fresh thinking and a variety of perspectives and experience to decision-making, and I am proud that this is a priority for Anchor.

As we move forward, we will continue to make inclusion central to the wider aims of our organisation – to provide quality later-life and retirement housing at scale.

Jane Ashcroft is chief executive of Anchor