Data dive on housing non-exec board roles

What kind of board members are housing associations looking for? How much do they pay? And how much do they use search firms? Read our insights to find out. 

Nearly half of all Housing Associations specifically look for diversity in their non-exec adverts. The group most frequently encouraged to apply for roles is people from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. This might not come as a surprise given the sector’s focus on improving racial diversity. More surprising is the second most sought after group. Over the last few years gender and ethnicity have been the most commonly discussed diversity groups, but we found that housing associations more often state they are keen to attract applications from people with disabilities to apply than they do women. But is writing a one sentence statement in an advert enough? Is the sector doing enough to encourage and enable people with disabilities to apply for board roles?

Even with a general buzz around digital, customer experience, and building safety in the housing sector, the most common skills and experiences they are looking for on their boards are still finance, housing experience, and property/real estate. With a limited number of non-executive roles around the board there is clearly a tension between looking to bring in new skills and experiences to drive change, and the need to make sure the board can challenge and support the exec on these core areas. 


How many roles are advertised? 

We have advertised 358 housing non-executive board roles on since we launched May 2021. These roles are from 174 different Housing organisations, with a split of 283 Non-Executive Director roles, and 75 Chair roles. 

We have carefully collated detailed data on all the non-executive Housing board roles advertised publicly online since we launched in May 2021, and now we are able to highlight some interesting trends within the sector.

We also gather data on other sectors including: public appointments, NHS Trusts, private and listed companies, professional bodies and co-operatives, mutuals and building societies.  Watch this space for more data dives! 


What diversity characteristics do housing associations look for? 

Housing Associations (HAs) are more likely to specifically encourage people with certain under-represented characteristics to apply for their board role than almost any other sector (narrowly beaten by NHS Trusts). 

47% of boards include wording in their advert saying they are looking to attract diverse candidates, or diversify their board.  Many specify what kind of diversity: for example saying they are under-represented in one area and would like to encourage applicants from that group. 

The top characteristics boards are looking for are:

#1 – People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds
#2 – People with disabilities
#3 – Women
#4 – Members of the LGBT community
#5 – Younger candidates 
#6 – First time NEDs

It won’t be surprising to see boards acknowledging their need to attract people from minority ethnic backgrounds, given the current poor representation, and the need to better represent the communities they serve.

It is perhaps more surprising that the second most sought after group is people with disabilities, as the conversation about how to improve the representation of people with disabilities on boards has, to date, been quieter than the gender and ethnicity narrative. It remains to be seen if boards are matching this with action beyond just the advert, for example by making application processes more accessible.

Lastly, it is interesting to note that the Housing sector encourages first time non-executive directors more than any other sector. 


What skills and experience are boards looking for? 

The top skill sets boards are looking for are: 

#1 – Finance skills e.g. audit, financial management, treasury, risk. 
#2 – Experience in housing/social housing. There is a general recognition that housing boards need a balance of people with experience in the sector, and those from outside of the sector.
#3 – Experience in property/real estate/development/asset management.

After that there are three main others:

#4 – Digital/technology/transformation
#5 – Customer experience 
#6 – Corporate governance 

Many organisations take a more open and flexible approach than we see in other sectors by stating that these skills are “desirable” rather than required, and that they are happy to accept applications from those with no previous experience in the sector or those who may bring slightly different skills.


What time commitment do they require? 

The average pay for a Non-Executive Director on a housing board is just under £6,000, and for a Chair it is just under £13,000. The average time commitment expected on a monthly basis for a Non-Executive Director is 1.5 days and for a Chair is 2.5 days.

When compared to other sectors, Housing Associations pay less per year, require fewer days per month, and pay less on a day rate basis too. The average day rate for a NED on a HA board is comparable with NHS Trusts on a day rate basis. Though NHS Trusts require over double the number of days per month (averaging 3.2 for NEDs, and 8.9 for Chairs). 

The lower time commitment of HA roles than other sectors can work well for those who have full-time jobs or are earlier in their careers.  As a result, the potential pool of NED candidates could be much broader for the housing sector, and that means it might be easier for housing boards to become more dynamic sooner than others! 


What proportion use a search firm? 

Two thirds (66.2%) of all the housing roles advertised were being managed by search firms, with the rest being managed internally. This is high when compared to NHS Trusts (a good comparison as they also advertise all their roles) who used search firms 41% of the time. 

The top three search firms make up 67% of all search firm usage in the sector, and the top eight make up 80%. For a more detailed analysis, including the top search firms used by Housing Associations, please register for our White Paper.


At Dynamic Boards we advertise all the paid non-executive board roles from across the UK. We are on a mission to create the most dynamic boards in the world! 

Interested in hearing about non-exec roles? It’s free to view all the roles (sign up here), this market doesn’t need any more paywalls or exclusive access clubs! 

Want help to get your board vacancy advertised to people who will meet your brief and make your board more dynamic? We can help! We are data led in all we do, so we know a lot about the skills, experiences and perspectives of our candidates. We’d love to advertise your role to exactly the right people. Get in touch:

Useful Information:


Contact Us


Copyright © Dynamic Boards Ltd 2021

Sign up to our newsletter