Google translate Google translate
click to choose
Colour contrast Contrast
Font size Text size
Toggle search
  • Date: 30/08/2023

Honeycomb Group become first social housing provider to join UK boardroom apprentice programme. 

We're delighted to announce that Honeycomb Group has been selected as the first social housing provider to join the UK Boardroom Apprentice programme delivered jointly by the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities and Boardroom Apprentice. 

Part of the Levelling Up agenda, the programme has created a learning, development and placement opportunity for boards, with the hope of furthering diversity.

Research commissioned by Chartered Institute of Housing President, Lara Oyedele, through her ‘In My Shoes’ campaign, showed the top 20 housing associations in England appeared to have a 15% proportion of BME people on their board only, with PlaceShapers members’ boards having 15% representation too. Further analysis into PlaceShapers members showed over 20% had 0% ‘visible representation of people of colour on their boards’ with a further 25% marked as ‘inconclusive’.[i]

The NHF’s West Midlands EDI 2022 data report also showed 57% of board members are over 55 years old and only 37% of board members are female.[ii]

Although Honeycomb Group has a higher-than-average female board member representation (45%), the Group acknowledges further development is needed. Chief Executive Julie Guildford Smith is delighted to join the scheme and lead the way for fellow social housing providers. She said: “we all need to do more to support diversity, not only within board and staff recruitment, but with diversity of thought across our organisations.

“Although this isn’t the beginning of our journey, we recognise the value an apprentice could bring to our Group and most importantly, our customers. We are proud to be the first RP selected to join the scheme and hope to inspire others to make further diversity commitments.”

In return, the programme will provide real life experience, mentoring support and structured learning for successful applicants.

A safe learning seat, where Boardroom Apprentices can contribute and have a voice at meetings, will be provided alongside an allocated mentor to guide them through papers, encourage them to contribute and run reflection sessions post-board. There will also be eight structured learning days provided by the programme as well as a project group to help Boardroom Apprentices showcase their learning as part of the programme.

The scheme is also great news for Stoke-on-Trent and the surrounding local area. The city was awarded £56m in Autumn 2021 to accelerate progress of three transformational schemes. The Goods Yard, Etruscan Square and a heritage-led regeneration project in Longton aim to stimulate the local economy.

Julie continued: “Our purpose here at Honeycomb Group is to champion local people and places. By joining the scheme, we’re not only supporting the Levelling Up agenda but supporting our communities and neighbourhoods. We are delighted to be a part of such an innovative project which is rebuilding pride and passion for our fantastic city.”

The 2024 Boardroom Apprentice programme opens on Monday 4 September. Applicants have four weeks to apply and will be able to select up to three preferred boards to be placed on for 12 months. Anybody over the age of 18, with no prior board experience, is invited to apply.​

To find out more visit


[i] ’The research, carried out by Semi Omotayo, was based on information such as photos published on housing associations’ websites, and a judgement call on whether board members seemed to be people of colour, and their gender. Ms Oyedele acknowledges that there are limits to inferring someone’s ethnicity or gender from a photo. But, she says, this overview still gives an important indication.’'Breaking%20the%20Mould,members%20of%20the%20Northern%20Housing