The Role of a Non-Executive Board Member in a Housing Association: A Journey of Influence and Impact

In this blog, Anne Elliott takes a look at the qualities, responsibilities and challenges associated with a housing association board member role.

The importance of well-governed housing associations has never been more critical in these times of increased scrutiny and regulation. Non-executive board members play a vital role in shaping the direction and ensuring the effective governance of these organisations. If you are considering becoming a non-executive board member for a housing association, this blog explores the qualities, responsibilities and challenges associated with this influential position.

  1. Commitment to the Mission: A non-executive board member must align themselves with the mission and values of the housing association. A deep-rooted passion for affordable and quality housing is essential. Understanding the social impact that a well-functioning housing association can have on individuals and communities is crucial to effectively contribute to the organisation’s objectives.
  2. Expertise and Skills: While specific expertise may vary depending on the association’s needs, several key skills are desirable for non-executive board members in the social housing sector. These may include financial management, legal knowledge, strategic planning, risk management, property development, tenant engagement and social policy understanding. The ability to work collaboratively within a diverse team and to contribute a unique perspective is also highly valuable.
  3. Understanding Governance: A comprehensive understanding of corporate governance is fundamental for non-executive board members. Being able to navigate the regulatory landscape, legal obligations and ethical standards is essential for effective decision-making and ensuring the association operates ethically and transparently. Developing expertise in governance frameworks, risk management and financial oversight will strengthen your contributions to the board.
  4. Embracing Accountability: Non-executive board members are accountable to the association’s stakeholders, including tenants, government bodies and funding providers. Understanding and fulfilling this responsibility is essential. Engaging in regular board meetings, scrutinising financial reports, monitoring performance metrics and ensuring compliance with legal requirements will help uphold transparency and maintain the trust of stakeholders.
  5. Collaboration and Communication: The ability to work collaboratively with fellow board members, executive staff and external partners is crucial. Active participation in board meetings, contributing insights and constructively challenging decisions will help shape the association’s strategic direction. Strong communication skills are essential for effective engagement with stakeholders, including tenants, local communities, and regulatory bodies.
  6. Commitment to Continuous Learning: The housing sector is ever-evolving and a non-executive board member must remain informed about sector trends, policy changes and emerging challenges. Actively seeking professional development opportunities, attending sector conferences and engaging with relevant networks will enhance your knowledge base and help you stay up-to-date with best practices.
  7. Challenges and Rewards: Being a non-executive board member for a housing association comes with its own set of challenges. Balancing competing interests, making difficult decisions and navigating political landscapes can be demanding. However, the rewards are equally significant. The opportunity to shape the lives of individuals and communities by providing affordable housing and influencing housing policy is immensely fulfilling.

Becoming a non-executive board member requires a combination of passion, skills and commitment. By embracing the responsibilities of the role, acquiring relevant expertise and fostering effective collaboration, you can make a meaningful impact on the lives of tenants and communities. Remember, it is a journey of influence and impact – and your contributions can shape the future of affordable and quality housing for generations to come.

If you are interested in pursuing your first non-executive board role, then please get in touch for an informal discussion.


Anne Elliot EMA Consultancy

Anne Elliott

Managing Director

01926 887272