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Part of Annual inclusion report 2021-22

A look at the diversity of our workforce today

Current Chapter

Current chapter – A look at the diversity of our workforce today


This year, one of our aims is to be even more open and transparent with our data, to report more indicators, and to bring all our reporting together into a single publication.


How our diversity is changing

We're not seeing big changes in how our organisation is made up.

Benchmarking shows NHS Digital is broadly aligned to the working population nationally, but there are some differences at regional level and in senior grades.

Aside from the need for caution around levels of declaration in our data, and the delay often associated with a project’s intended impact, it appears that our interventions, while extremely meaningful and impactful in terms of advancing awareness and fostering an inclusive culture, haven not yet translated into significant shifts in the diversity of our workforce. 


2021 workforce diversity snapshot

An overview of our statistics
  • 45% female and 55% male
  • 41% of new joiners were women
  • 34% of internal promotions were women
  • 4% declare they are LGB+
  • 13% declare they are black, Asian and minority ethnic
  • 10% of starters in the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) were black, Asian and minority ethnic
  • 5% declare they are disabled
  • workforce maternity/adoption leave rate was 1%
  • 79 employees were on maternity or adoption leave
  • 29 took paternity/additional paternity or adoption leave
  • 8 took shared parental/adoption leave
  • 25% of new starters were aged 25 or under

Executive Senior Manager diversity snapshot


2025 diversity targets

The Board have endorsed targets of 19% black, Asian and minority ethnic, 14% disabled and 50% female colleagues at all levels by 2025. This reflects NHS England and Improvement's commitment on ethnicity, the economically active rate of disabled people in the population and parity for gender.

The targets are a step forward, however it will take all of us in the organisation to shift the historic dial on our workforce diversity. We require deliberate and concerted focus and effort in tandem with action over time across a range of available levers.

We will be taking proactive steps to remove barriers to participation, reduce bias and provide support to ensure a level playing field for all.


Characteristics broken down by pay band

The following data was taken from ESR at the end of the 2020/21 financial year and is a snapshot of the employee population at a particular point in time. When our protected characteristics are further broken down by grade, the picture changes, and the following trends are evident:

Female representation has increased in percentage points since 2017 in bands 7, 8a to 8d and Personal Salary.


Black, Asian and minority ethnic representation has increased in percentage points since 2017 in bands 2 to 4, band 5, band 8b to 8d and Personal Salary.

The drop in Personal Salary is due to a significant decrease in the positions identified in this category, from 27 to 6. 


The disabled representation rate has mostly remained consistent.

The disabled representation has increased in percentage points since 2017 in bands 2 to 4, band 6 and Personal Salary.

We recognise that, like many other organisations and the NHS more broadly, there is a general lack of diversity within the senior grades.

We know that barriers to career progression and lack of representative role models are among the influential factors here.  

This is why we're making a strong organisational commitment to our diversity targets, and their associated actions is so critical. 


Last edited: 10 February 2022 9:42 am