Making social housing the most equal, diverse and inclusive sector it can be

Kate Henderson, 05 April 2023

I’m proud of our sector for taking steps to address inequalities within our workforces and to see such a commitment to making the housing sector the most equal, diverse and inclusive place it can be.

In the spring of 2020, we launched our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Data Tool, which has helped hundreds of housing associations to better understand their workforce diversity data, and how representative they are of their local communities. This has enabled them to target change and work towards creating the most inclusive and diverse workforce possible.

We’re repeating our EDI data collection this year and need housing associations to help us build the most accurate picture of diversity in social housing.

In April 2023, we will be launching a new version of the EDI data tool which will reflect findings from the 2021 census and be even easier to use. At that point, we will ask NHF members to complete your data and return this by 5 June.

This is a huge opportunity to measure the impact of the sector’s work on EDI and for improvements in closing data gaps to drive meaningful change

Key findings from 2020

Our EDI national data report presented the findings of the first ever national picture of EDI within the housing association workforce in England. We collected EDI data from 174 organisations, representing 71% of housing association stock in England. This represented data for workforce, staff, executives, and board members. Workforce data is for all staff, including executive, for 174 organisations. Staff data is for 163 organisations who also provided separate executive data.

The data we collected showed that there are large gaps in what we know about our workforce, executive teams, and boards – this makes it difficult to build accurate pictures to compare to population data.

  • The biggest gaps are around caring responsibilities and socio-economic characteristics.
  • Staff are also more likely to choose not to share religion and sexual orientation.

There is a clear lack of representation across a range of demographics:

  • Only 8% of the workforce is disabled, compared to 24% of the local population living in areas where housing associations have homes.
  • 90% of executives are White, compared to 81% of staff and 83% of the local population where housing associations have homes.
  • 45% of executives and 42% of boards are female, compared to 55% of staff and 51% of the local population where housing associations have homes.

What we need from you

We want to be able to assess where we are as a sector and track our progress towards ensuring our overall housing workforce is representative of the communities that we work with. The starting point is data collection, therefore we are asking our members to use the new data tool and submit the data you collect to us.  

At the NHF, we are committed to improving EDI across the sector, but we can’t do it without help from our members. As a sector, we know the scale of the challenge ahead and key areas of focus. Now it’s time to drive real and actionable change, using data as a solid foundation.

Why submit your data?

The updated tool will be useful to understand and improve how representative your organisation is of communities where you have homes. Contributing your organisation's data to our sector-wide report also allows us to understand how the national picture is shifting over time and is a powerful commitment to increasing inclusivity.

Social housing is rooted in addressing inequalities, and as a sector we provide millions of homes for people across the country. We are a sector that serves many diverse communities, including LGBTQ+ people and people of all ethnic minorities.

The Better Social Housing Review has published its report and recommendations to drive improvements in the quality of social housing homes. Structural inequalities, and in particular race, were a core theme throughout the report and tackling this has underpinned all the recommendations.

Our ambition is to drive the change needed for our sector to be a more diverse and inclusive place to work, that reflects the communities we serve. This is not just morally the right thing to do, but will lead to better decisions, better workplaces, and ultimately better outcomes.

The deadline to submit your completed data tool is on Monday 5 June. After analysing the findings, we will launch the results at the National Housing Summit on 11-12 September 2023.

Thanks to all our members who submit their data and help make the social housing sector the most equal, diverse and inclusive place it can be.