The Chartered Institute of Housing has announced a new set of seven professional standards for people working in the housing sector.
By sticking to these guidelines, the CIH states that individuals will ‘demonstrate their dedication to the sector, develop new and existing behaviours, and champion the role housing professionals play in making a difference to the residents and communities they work with’.
These standards were developed by hundreds of CIH members, tenants and residents, and other professional bodies. They are designed to ‘raise the professional competency of everyone working in housing, regardless of their role or specialism’.
According to the CIH, the standards will highlight purpose, and play a ‘key role in creating a future in which everyone has a decent, secure and high-quality place to call home.’ They will help people identify negative behaviours which could affect their working practice and the industry as a whole, and allow members of the industry to be valued for their ‘knowledge, skills, and behaviours.’
The first standard is integrity. A housing professional must have a ‘clear understanding of their values’ and must act in accordance with them. This ensures that in their work, they will do the right thing for the right reasons, and will act indiscriminately. If their work is underpinned by integrity, it not only means that they’ll do the best job possible at the level they’re at but will reflect positively on the housing sector in general. They’ll treat everyone fairly, and demonstrate transparency and honesty in their work.
The second standard is inclusivity. Housing professionals must be transparent and fair, and their goal must be positive outcomes for everyone. They need to build and develop good relationships with their partners, customers, and communities. People need to be aware of their own unconscious bias and be able to recognise, value, and draw on a wide range of perspectives. People need to build collaborative relationships between organisation boundaries, cultures, and other disciplines. A zero-tolerance approach towards inappropriate or discriminatory behaviour is required.
Housing providers must also be ethical. Their choices within their work must be based on their underlying principles and values. They need to make choices fairly and be aware of the fact that their decisions have an impact both on the lives of their customers and the companies they work for. This standard also requires people to challenge unethical practice in a ‘fair and considered’ way, should they encounter it, and to be aware of conflict of interest.
The fourth standard is to be knowledgeable. In a fast-paced environment, with ever-changing regulations, it is absolutely critical that people keep their practical and specialist knowledge as up-to-date as they can. People need to understand the ‘bigger picture’ and have a strong drive to keep learning in the job. Part of this is to be self-aware, and know your own strengths and areas you could improve upon.
The fifth standard, to be skilled, builds on the previous standard. People must equip themselves with the necessary skills to excel in their job role. This will involve making the best use of technology where you can, and approaching problems with an open mind and flexible attitude. This ensures that everyone is capable of carrying out their job to the highest possible standard. Everyone must always bear ‘excellent customer service’ in mind.
The sixth standard is to be an advocate. Housing professionals must recognise that they act as ambassadors for the wider profession – they need to always think of the bigger picture. By working and conducting their business to a high standard, they promote a positive image for the whole industry.
Leadership is the seventh standard. Housing professionals need to demonstrate leadership at any level of their job. They need to be forward-thinking and innovative enough to create new opportunities when considering the outcomes of their organisation, tenants, and communities. People need to be flexible and be able to adapt quickly and work well with others inside and outside of their organisation. Take ownership of their mistakes, learn from them, and demonstrate actions to put things right and avoid them happening again.
Gavin Smart, chief executive at CIH stated that he was delighted to introduce this first phase of their professionalism work. He hopes that these standards will help every housing professional to be recognised by their ‘knowledge, behaviours, resilience, and dedication’ to the industry.
In the next months, the CIH will introduce new tools and materials to support individuals and organisations improve their professionalism in the context of these standards. This includes a self-assessment function for each of the standards and new training to boost housing professional’s knowledge and skill.