Deirdre La Bassiere
Need to know: every month we ask one of our consultants to share three key insights into current trends from their field of expertise. This week we’re asking governance and social housing specialist Deirdre LaBassiere what she thinks we all need to know:
I’d like to discuss what I call The Three C’s:
1. Collective Intelligence:
Diversity of Thought was a buzz phrase before the pandemic. The lack of diversity on boards and how that cascades into the culture of organisations has been brought into sharp focus through inequalities highlighted through the pandemic. The natural progression from diversity of thought is diversity in action which can only occur when diversity of experience is reflected around the board table. Improved board performance demands that in addition to directors being gender and ethnically diverse, all directors must be intentionally cognitively diverse.
Boards have a paramount duty to discharge their stewardship duties effectively. This means that directors must have an effective decision-making process, thereby capable of diverse thinking. Effective problem-solving requires boards to consider and grasp the whole picture when deliberating, meaning a picture that is free of blind spots which would otherwise be present if directors were not diverse. Cognitive diversity is an essential requirement for boards to successful lead their organisations.
The new operating environment has highlighted the importance of collaboration in empowering, mobilising and anchoring communities.
The pandemic has highlighted the great things that can be achieved through organisations working together, within and outside of sectors, for the benefit of their stakeholders and communities with the common objective of providing safe and affordable housing for society’s most vulnerable, fixing the housing crisis and helping the economy to recover.
Deep dives are taking place within organisations in order to:
3. Climate Change:
Tackling the climate crisis, as was recently strongly confirmed at the recent G7 Conference in Cornwall is the most significant challenge of our time. The role of the governance, risk and compliance is more important than ever in supporting housing associations to decarbonise existing homes and ensuring that new homes are built to higher environmental standards whilst guaranteeing that the Regulatory Standards are met as organisations innovate and leadership drives change.
Climate-proofing the almost 30 million homes in the UK to low carbon heating by 2050 will prove quite a challenge. The government has set a target of 600,000 heat pump installations a year by 2028 – a good aim which now has to be accomplished.
Many solutions involve technology and building fabric but organisations need to also account for nature, considering issues such as green spaces, sustainable drainable systems and rainwater collection flowing to name a few.
It is recognised that these changes will improve quality and reduce running costs in the long run, but significant upfront capital costs will be needed in many cases, and this issue is finding its way onto some housing associations’ risk registers.
Central and local government have crucial roles in enabling changes including:
Must read: we asked Deirdre to recommend a book, podcast, article or report that has left a mark on her professional practice.
I am currently reading 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Dethmer, Chapman & Klemp.
This is a phenomenal book that defines leadership from an intentional and very conscious level. It touches on the authentic self in each of us to lead ourselves, our teams and our organisations. Everything In this book provides solid advice for shifting one’s perspective and expectations for a more contented, strong, solid, compassionate, empathic and mindful work and life experience. It encourages us to take full responsibility for ourselves and our actions. It is a book I expect I will continue to reference for a long time to come.
About Deirdre LaBassiere
Deirdre is a governance specialist with 18 years’ experience in legal and regulatory environments. Her vast experience includes advising, training and supporting organisations to drive and embed good governance, compliance, risk and assurance; including in data protection with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018.
Deirdre's roles have included Company Secretary at Bournville Village Trust, Governance & Assurance Manager at Housing21 and she is currently Interim Head of Governance & Legal at Magna Housing Ltd. A much sought after public-speaker and trainer, Deirdre is a regular contributor to the acclaimed cross-boundary leadership development Common Purpose Programme and has addressed conferences including the Law Society of England & Wales and the National Housing Federation on governance.
Deirdre has served on a variety of boards including the Black Solicitors Network, the Future Melting Pot CIC and the Birmingham Leadership Foundation. She is currently Chair of the Lunar Society and has recently commissioned a White Paper exploring whether the adoption of 12 Principles of Governance proposed by The Governance Forum (TGF) could improve organisational outcomes through a comprehensive and flexible approach to governance. She is also currently a trustee of WAITS (Women Acting In Today's Society).