Branch Secretary :

New survey shows lack of race equality in housing associations


Clarion Housing guilty of race discrimination


Inside Housing recently revealed that over 60% of major housing associations have all white executive teams. The survey also found that 87.4% of associations’ board members are white, with 25 organisations reporting that they have all-white boards. 


The magazine has been campaigning on equality for a number of years and recently noted that rather than seeing progress, if anything, things have gone backwards despite high profile equality initiatives by housing associations.  


Our reps find insensitivity of worse


Clarion housing, the biggest housing association, was recently found guilty of direct race discrimination by an Employment Tribunal. This is a pointer to the problem on the ground in associations. Although it has unfortunately not yet been reported by Inside Housing. Our reps frequently find associations insensitive or worse on questions of race.


It is notable that the judgment has not been widely discussed. Clarion may fear the bad publicity but this is not the way to learn lessons and change.


Treat workers fairly


Over a period of years, Unite has consistently warned that the series of much vaunted initiatives would fail unless fundamental issues are addressed. We want to see workers treated fairly and equally at all levels in housing organisations. That is important in itself, and discriminatory treatment of workers lower down the organisation will not assist career progression and is likely to contribute to the problem of representation at senior levels. 



We warned that initiatives from associations focussed on helping black senior executives get still more senior posts. That will not change culture in itself and has clearly failed even in the immediate aim of increasing diversity at senior levels.  


Determined to fight back


We have increasingly found a ‘union hostile’ approach by employers in the sector particularly when equality impact assessments are requested by union reps, or when we raise the unequal treatment of BAME workers in disciplinaries. We have also warned that the move away from paying the ‘rate for the job’ towards allegedly market linked ‘spot salaries’ has a negative impact on equal opportunity. 


Sometimes it has been necessary to launch campaigns in order to achieve fairness in restructuring processes. Employers in the sector should understand that Unite is prepared to fight hard on these issues.


The increasing tendency of management in the sector to attempt to limit the operation of unions or, disgracefully, to derecognise unions has had a negative impact. However, the Unite housing workers branch doubled the number of union reps over the difficult period of the pandemic – this reflects an increasing determination of housing workers to fight back.


In our experience problems in the workplace are frequently matched by problems in services to residents and tenants and we will continue to work with groups such as SHAC to hold  housing associations to account.


If you haven’t joined Unite sign up today here. 


Email if you want to campaign on the issue with us at


See more articles on equalities on our website here.  


31st October 2021


Before Posting

We welcome debate and discussion on our website, but we also want an open, respectful, inclusive space in which forms of abuse or personal attack will not be tolerated. Comments will be moderated and will be removed if they are found to be unduly offensive. You should also be very careful in posting information about your employer. Employers do visit the website and if you think a comment could get you into trouble for releasing confidential or sensitive information, or for bringing the employer into disrepute, please do not post it. It remains your individual responsibility to ensure that what you post is appropriate. Please therefore just give a moment's thought to what you are saying. The types of comments that are likely to be moderated are:

  • Personal abuse or attacks on an individual.
  • Information which breaches another person's right to confidentiality.
  • The use of offensive language, including swear words, or language which is racist, sexist, or otherwise breaches equalities standards.
  • Anything that might place the Branch or the wider union in legal jeopardy.
  • Adverts or information which is posted for commercial gain.

* Name
* Email (will not be published)
* field is required