Branch Secretary :

Unite fighting Social Housing Regulator 20% ethnicity pay gap

Strong trade unions are starting point


Over a period of years we have been challenging the housing sector’s record on race equality in employment in the Unite housing workers branch. New members have stepped forward to work as reps and we wont let the issue drop.



As we warned in advance the various top-down equality initiatives in the sector – many driven by figures associated with the Regulator of Social Housing such as Steve Douglas (now CEO at St Mungos) have failed to prevent the position getting worse.


Strong trade unions are the starting point to fight workplace inequality. Below reps at the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) a body that should really be setting a better example for the sector set out their position. It is ironic that the RSH figures come as the government promotes the Sewell Report report which seeks to down-play institutional racism.



Pressure from Unite


How do we address the growing gap between ethnic minorities, within ethnic minorities and the white population, and between male and female employees?


The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has published its ethnicity pay gap report, after it committed to carrying it out following pressure from Unite and the joint trade unions. However, its findings are stark and don’t come as a surprise. The report shows that BAME employees are paid on average 20% less than their white colleagues, and alongside the gender pay gap report, female staff are paid 16% less than their male colleagues.


Bullying harassment and discrimination reported


With 16% of RSH staff BAME and 63% of staff female (an increase of 1% from 2019), the RSHs’ corporate values on equality, diversity and inclusion appears hollow. Following a staff survey in 2019, a consultant was brought in to look at the high levels of bulling, harassment and discrimination reported by BAME staff and a series of workshops set up. Unite has lobbied for more initiatives to deal with a hierarchical top-down management structure, where bullying is dismissed, and grievances are rarely upheld, and these findings continue that realisation.



Unite reps at the RSH have stated their concerns that casework is clearly related to these issues, and disproportionately raised by lower graded, BAME female members, who report bullying primarily from white male managers.


No ethnic minority representation


The RSH does not have any senior BAME staff above a Grade 19, and the make-up of the Board lacks BAME representation. The belief in meritocracy is palpable and clearly fails without clear policy, processes and initiatives to deal with structural inequalities and bias in favour of white men. Having a female CEO is a good start, but the RSH needs to go further, or it will face more wrath from its staff. The RSH has been an independent body since October 2018 but despite a heavy HR presence, its review of outdated policies is well overdue.


The RSH must be a sector leader in making itself representative, and having true commitment to dealing with pay inequality, bullying and harassment, and to stop the culture that blames individuals who either don’t negotiate higher salaries, or must just perform poorly at interviews! This also flies in the face of equal pay for equal work and Unite has called for the disparity to close where newcomers can demand higher salaries whereas long-standing staff find themselves stuck on what is offered. RSH now has a BAME and a Women’s Network which has been in response to the inequity which is real and shows that staff won’t put up with these inequalities and injustices for any longer.


Unite members at the Regulator of Social Housing


6th April 2021



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