North East Connected

Cestria ranked impressive 2nd in index of diversity friendly employers

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 11.51.43Staff at housing association Cestria are celebrating being placed second in a national league table of the UK’s most diversity friendly employers.

The landlord, which looks after some 4,300 affordable homes and their residents in Chester-Le-Street, County Durham, was chosen for the honour by the National Centre for Diversity based on anonymous surveys of its own staff.

Over 600 organisations – businesses, educational establishments, charities  and housing providers like Cestria – were all considered for inclusion in the Top 100 Index.

All those listed were assessed on their work promoting diversity, including respect for the nine protected characteristics – age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation.

At Wednesday evening’s ceremony Cestria staff were thrilled to be placed so high in the index, second only to another landlord, Yorkshire Coast Homes in Scarborough.

Arshia Bhatti, programme manager for Cestria, said: “The league table was counted down from 100 to 1, and so as the Top 10 started to be announced, our hearts were pounding to see where we would be placed.

“It’s a real honour to be ranked so highly, and we’re proud of all our colleagues for embracing the importance of diversity, and really embedding an attitude of understanding and empathy right throughout our business.”

Alongside the announcement of the Top 100 Index, the award ceremony saw the presentation of 22 awards for the big achievers of 2015/16.

Paul Fiddaman, deputy chief executive of Isos Group, who was considered for the CEO of the Year award in recognition of his work leading Cestria before it joined the Isos Group, said: “We have always placed diversity right at the heart of how Cestria is run, so it’s gratifying for everyone to be recognised in this way.

“I know Cestria will keep building communities which are truly inclusive, and where everyone has access to every opportunity to lead successful lives.”

Cestria has taken steps to truly embed diversity awareness in how its business is run, with the leadership team all closely involved, each taking on the responsibility to champion one of the protected characteristics.

Arshia added: “Cestria has ensured E&D is embedded in the governance structure, and that staff come on the journey with us, including using drama based training to teach messages of inclusivity and tolerance.”

One example of Cestria’s approach is adopting the ‘Disability Two Ticks’ approach to recruitment, which guarantees an interview to any disabled person who meets the minimum criteria for a job role.

In September last year, Cestria was reaccredited with the sought-after Leaders in Diversity award by the NCFD after first gaining the award in 2013.

The NCFD mission is to advance equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) to ensure fairness for all, and the annual awards ceremony recognises those organisations and individuals who most effectively demonstrate their commitment to EDI principles.

To find out more about the National Centre for Diversity, you can visit the website at

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