Driving change through data - reflecting on the NHF's EDI national data report and Better Social Housing Review

Victor da Cunha, 09 October 2023

Last month the NHF launched its latest equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) report reviewing data across the housing association workforce in England. This research provides an updated picture of representation across the sector, revealing where progress has been made and where greater focus is still required to drive change.

Access the full report: How diverse is England’s housing association workforce in 2023?

Key findings and recommendations

The EDI data report’s key findings reveal minimal change in the ethnic diversity of leadership over the past two years - with only 4% of executives from ethnic minority backgrounds compared to 14% of the population. Disabled people are also underrepresented, making up just 9% of the workforce compared to 24% of the population and 29% of residents.

Significant gaps persist around data collection on socioeconomic status and caring responsibilities. Finally, staff are less likely not to disclose their religion (6.4%), sexual orientation (6%), marital status (4.2%) and gender identity (4%) choosing prefer not to say for these characteristics.

To drive change, the EDI data report makes recommendations focused on:

  • Setting clear diversity goals and representation targets.
  • Changing recruitment practices to remove barriers faced by marginalised groups.
  • Addressing gaps in data collection.
  • Collaborating on inclusion initiatives.
  • Better engaging staff voices and lived experiences

As the sector works to make progress across these areas, it will be critical that words transition into measurable actions. With focus and collaboration, and by implementing these recommendations, I’m optimistic we can achieve greater diversity and inclusion.

Embracing change - The Better Social Housing Review

The EDI data national report aligns closely with the recently published the Better Social Housing Review (BSHR) where I’ve had the opportunity to be part of the steering group. The review makes recommendations to improve social housing, with a significant focus on addressing structural inequalities and race as a fundamental theme throughout. 

The review outlines how ethnic minorities face gaps in housing quality, resident satisfaction, complaints handling, and more. Tackling these inequities requires housing associations to better represent the diversity of their workforce across all roles, levels, and groups. As the NHF’s latest EDI data report shows, there is significant progress still to be made.

While each housing association will develop its own response, I urge all providers to reflect on these recommendations. We have far to go to address structural biases and ensure uniformly inclusive housing.

Social housing’s commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion

Our sector has long been committed to the ideals of equality, diversity, and inclusion. This commitment is not just a box to be ticked, but a fundamental principle that drives our actions. It’s a testament to our understanding that to truly serve our communities, we must reflect the richness of their diversity within our own workforce.

As we review the critical findings of the EDI national data report and the BSHR, we must recognise that they are not just observations; they are calls to action. To remain true to our commitment to diversity and inclusion, we must ensure that our workforce is diverse and representative of the communities we serve by implementing these recommendations and action plans.

By implementing these recommendations, we can create a more diverse and inclusive workforce that is better equipped to deliver the quality of housing that everyone deserves.

As Chair of the NHF’s EDI in Housing Member Group and part of the steering group for the Better Social Housing Review, I’m committed to supporting the sector make progress across these areas.

This journey continues to the next EDI data collection in 2026, where we'll measure the impact of our sector’s efforts to ensure we're progressing in the right direction.