HDN’s Board Diversity Programme is an exciting initiative that draws on leading diversity practice to make a real and lasting impact on the development of diversity at Board level.

Organisations have seen that diversity at a Board level has not improved significantly in recent years, despite efforts and intentions to do so. We have therefore developed a programme of support, building on our unrivalled expertise and networks, to enable organisations to be proactive in their efforts and achieve real results.

Relevant research is limited, and this initiative will conduct further quantitative and qualitative research to enhance its impact. Existing research tells us that:

  • U.K. housing boards do not reflect the diverse make-up of the UK population or, perhaps more crucially, the communities they serve.
  • Only 23 out of 100 housing boards have half or more women members.
  • Only 2% out of 1,061 board members are under 40 years old.
  • Only 7% of housing board members are BAME, compared to 14% of the general population (as at 2011).
  • 1% of boards have individuals that identify as LGBT
  • 6% of board members identify themselves as disabled.

These statistics mirror a wider picture of the lack of diversity across many types of company boards. The Parker Review found that only 8% of FTSE 100 directors are BAME directors. 53 out of 100 FTSE 100 companies have no BAME directors.

Our Programme is designed to support you across four key stages:

  1. Preparation with the existing board and organisation for a more diverse board,
  2. Searching for and selection of diverse board members (particularly in terms of ethnicity and age/younger members),
  3. Inducting and mentoring these board members (as actual or prospective), and
  4. Retaining and ensuring good contribution of such new members.

Access the interim evaluation of the Board Diversity Programme here

We would be happy to talk to you about the programme, to share experience and to tailor the package you need to suit your own organisation.

Contact us at info@housingdiversitynetwork.co.uk for further details.

Diverse Boards are better. So how do you build one?

Diversity among board members is of increasing importance in the housing sector. Learn how two organisations took a pro-active approach.

In this seminar we explore how the pilot project was run in conjunction with Progress and Together Groups. This seminar launches our evaluation of the project following the first cohort of potential board members.

Find out about how these organisations went about recruiting a truly diverse cohort that helped to fill the gaps that exist in our governance structures. Both organisations then set about enabling the authentic and proficient contributions of potential board and committee members.

Blog by Yvonne Davies, HDN Associate Consultant

Yvonne reflects on the first 18 months of the Board Diversity Programme.

Here are a few headlines from Yvonne’s perspective on the programme.

Good Governance

  • We work with housing associations to identify gaps in diversity at board/committees whilst also considering where natural vacancies might emerge in future years.
  • The programme enables Boards to realise potential for diversity of thought in the boardroom and committees. This is essential to god governance.

Supporting Sector Diversity

  • A crucial part of the programme is the premise that no trainees on the Board Diversity programme are guaranteed a position on a board. HDN commitment is to get them ready to be in a position to apply for the board.
  • Naturally we are always chatting about future planned and unplanned vacancies and checking the readiness of our trainees to fill those gaps.
  • This a real ‘feel good’ course, for the individuals and for the Board members and staff who are supporting us to make a difference.
  • Where we cannot place the trainee to a vacancy, we support the trainees with additional sessions and/or links/introductions to find board positions in other organisations.


  • We support organisational recruitment by supporting open days, design of adverts and recruitment pack, or the recruitment process itself.
  • The innovative recruitment techniques we used, brought the best from applicants and removed barriers and bias.
  • You could argue that we have ‘taken chances. with the pilot organisations Together and Progress Housing Groups, who have taken some trainees who are from other sectors, from diverse groups, with no knowledge or thought, of applying to this sector.
  • At the same time, we have taken other trainees who are young and add different views on technology and their own experiences to the boards.

Success Factors

Joint working with the organisation’s Governance Leads has been crucial to match and enable progress to be followed.

The Chair and the Chief Executive support has been crucial in enabling doors to be opened for the pilot. In terms of the trainees:

  • One has secured a Board position
  • Two have secured positions at Committees
  • Two others have secured positions on Charity Boards, one linked to the sponsor
  • Two others are receiving tailored support in year two with observer status on a Committee
  • Two others have fallen behind with one to one work
  • Two have left the course, due to work pressures, but they have learnt a lot which they can use in the future