How diverse is England’s housing association workforce in 2023?

How diverse is England’s housing association workforce in 2023?

In 2021, the National Housing Federation conducted research which examined Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in England’s Housing Associations’ workforce compared with their local communities. In 2023, the NHF repeated this data collection, analysing the same protected and unprotected characteristics. The study demonstrates not only where the sector is in terms of EDI but also what, if anything, has changed. The report found that there has been little change in the ethnic diversity of boards and executives over the last two years.

Missing Data

Despite improvement from the 2021 report, there were still gaps in the data collected. As before, the largest gaps were around socioeconomic background and caring responsibilities. The next largest gap was around the impact of disability. Much like in 2021, this prevents a more intersectional understanding of the identity of individuals and teams. We must also continue to consider why colleagues are choosing not to disclose parts of their identity and experience and what this means for inclusion.

Some key findings:

  • At a national level, the sector’s workforce is ethnically diverse and representative of the communities served. 10% of the workforce are from a Black/African/ Caribbean/Black British ethnic group, compared to 8% of residents and 5% of the population where stock is located.
  • This ethnic diversity is somewhat mirrored in boards. 82% of board members are White, compared to 81% of the workforce nationally. However, there were variations in representation within different organisations and there are still all-white boards. Research commissioned by Lara Oyedele, as part of her In My Shoes Campaign, investigates this further.
  • As in 2021, executive teams are significantly less ethnically diverse. Only 4% of executives are either Black/African/Caribbean/ Black British or Asian/Asian British compared to 16% of the population.
  • Executive teams are not diverse or representative. 10% of the workforce is Black/African/Caribbean/ Black British compared to 3% of executives. 5% of the workforce is Asian/Asian British but only 1% are executives.


There has been little change in the ethnic diversity of executive positions or boards in the sector since 2021.

Some key reflections, updates and recommended actions:

  • In 2021, it was recommended that Housing Associations review their workplaces and recruitment practices to identify barriers to progression and recruitment for people from Black, Asian, Mixed and Other ethnic groups. In 2023, they were encouraged to continue this momentum, review actions, identify learning and shape more ambitious plans and strategies to increase the diversity of their leadership.

The report stated that one way to demonstrate commitment is to become a Leadership Diversity Champion by following Leadership 2025’s five-point plan for developing a more ethnically diverse leadership. Please get in touch with us for information or support with becoming a Diversity Champion.

They also signposted to Black on Board, who are working to increase the representation of those from BME backgrounds on boards across the nation through mentoring, training and recruitment support.

  • The Better Social Housing Review, published in 2022, showed that residents from Black, Asian and Minority backgrounds are more likely to live in homes with issues like damp and mould. As part of their response to this, the NHF has launched Knowing our Homes, to consider how social landlords can use data to identify if and where residents from certain groups, including residents from BAME backgrounds, are more likely to live in poorer quality homes.
  • To explore regional variation, the NHF will publish data at a regional level, alongside a summary of the results. They noted that it is important to consider representation as more than reflecting the characteristics of the local population but also as ensuring a diverse range of characteristics and backgrounds are represented at all levels of the organisation.

You can read the full report here.