Find out how we are working to make sure the honours system is proportionally representative of UK society.
To ensure that diversity and equality are at the forefront of the honours system, the Diversity Committee was established. It meets twice a year to look at where improvements can be made and which areas should be focused on.
The Diversity Committee’s purpose is to:
- work to ensure the honours system is properly reflective of UK society;
support targeted regional and sectoral outreach and publicity of the honours system;
- identify policy improvements or interventions regarding improving diversity in the honours system and make recommendations to the HD Committee;
- recommend courses of action to the independent honours committees, honours secretaries and the Honours and Appointments Secretariat to improve diversity;
- support the work of the independent committees by ensuring they are sighted on best practice in this area, remain mindful of and committed to diversity targets, and undertake discussions and the evaluation of candidates in an open and even handed way; and
- support pipeline-building activities across all honours committees.
The Committee is made up one representative of each of the ten independent committees. Membership is:
Chair: Dame Louise Casey DBE CB
- Naomi Climer, Vice President, Royal Academy of Engineering – Science and Technology Committee
- Emir Feisal JP, Trustee, the Henry Smith Charity – Public Service Committee
- Donna Fraser, Vice President, UK Athletics – Sport Committee
- Rupert Gavin (Chair, Arts & Media), Chair, Historic Royal Palaces – Arts and Media Committee
- Dr Sue Griffiths, Managing Director, Social Development Direct and Dame Denise Platt, Member, General Medical Council and Member, Solicitors Regulation Authority – Parliamentary and Political Service Committee
- Professor Heather McGregor CBE, Executive Dean, Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University – Economy Committee
- Jenny Rowe CB, Former CEO, Supreme Court – State Committee
- Prof Iqbal Singh, Chair, Centre of Excellence and Safety for Older People (CESOP) – Health Committee
- Ben Summerskill OBE, Chair, Silver Line and Director, Criminal Justice Alliance – Community and Voluntary Services Committee
- Vacant – Education Committee
The honours system is for all UK citizens and it’s important that honours lists properly reflect the whole of society. The honours community is working towards making sure future honours lists are proportionally representative of people of all backgrounds. Find more about
Recipients are asked to anonymously complete a diversity monitoring form when they are offered their honour. The information collected is only used for statistical purposes to improve the diversity of the honours system.
The groups who have been identified as being underrepresented in honours lists are below. Outreach is targeted towards underrepresented groups with the aim of increasing awareness about how to nominate.
Good progress has been made in recent year to ensure that there is an equal number of men and women on honours lists. However, this is not the case across all levels of honours. Women tend to receive fewer awards than men at the higher honours levels (Damehood and CBE). On average over the last four years women have received about 38.2% of awards of the higher awards.
In 2014, the Diversity and Inclusion Group (superseded by the Diversity Committee) set a target of 10% of awards going to those from ethnic minorities by 2020.
Between June 2014 and December 2020, the percentage of honours recipients from ethnic minorities (not including White minorities) went up from 6.5% to 14.2%.
The percentage of honours which are awarded to people at CBE level and above are lower and need to be improved. People from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background have in previous lists received on average around 6.5% of awards over the last eight honours rounds.
The ethnicity data of the recipients of previous honours lists is published on the Ethnicity Facts and Figures website. The table below shows the percentage of people from a non-white background who have received honours since the New Year Honours List 2019. This data only reflects the recipients who provided their ethnicities and roughly 10% of recipients on any list do not provide this.
|Honours list||All levels|
|Queen’s Birthday 2021||15%|
|New Year 2021||14.2%|
|Queen’s Birthday 2020||13%|
|New Year 2020||9.1%|
|Queen’s Birthday 2019||10%|
|New Year 2019||11.8%|
According to government data, there are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK. That means disabled people make up 22% of the UK population – more than one in five.
Honours recipients are asked to indicate whether they have a disability or long-term health condition when they accept their honour. There has been some variation in the numbers of people with disabilities across previous honours rounds, from lows of 5.2% in the Queen’s Birthday 2016 and 5% in the New Year Honours List 2018. This rose to almost 9% in the New Year 2017 List and 11% at New Year 2020. The table below shows the number of recipients since the New Year Honours List 2019 that indicated that they have a disability or long-term health condition.
The honours system should be accessible to everyone and work is underway to ensure that whatever someone’s disability or background, the honours system is accessible to them. You can download an easy read nomination form.
|Honours list||All levels|
|Queen’s Birthday 2021||9%|
|New Year 2021||6.9%|
|Queen’s Birthday 2020||6%|
|New Year 2020||11%|
|Queen’s Birthday 2019||5.9%|
|New Year 2019||4%|
Honours lists should reflect the population of all four nations and be distributed proportionally across the country. This is a key priority for the Prime Minister who highlighted in the Strategic Priorities that he sets for the honours system that “in supporting the Government’s levelling up agenda, the Prime Minister would like to see representation from the length and breadth of the UK, reflecting the extraordinary contributions made across every part of this country, with a real focus in recognising parts of the country often overlooked”.
Currently, around 25% of the UK population lives in London and the South East, and those two regions have been most heavily represented in consecutive honours rounds. Comparably, the North-East, North-West and Yorkshire regions, which together hold around 23% of the UK population, are generally underrepresented as can be seen in the table below.
|Devolved Nation / Region||Recipients on Queen’s Birthday List 2020||Percentage of recipients on Queen’s Birthday List 2020||Recipients on New Year List 2021||Percentage of recipients on New Year List 2021||Recipients on Queen’s Birthday List 2021||Percentage of recipients on Queen’s Birthday List 2021||Percentage of UK population living in DA / region|
|East of England||119||7.9%||121||9.8%||96||8.5%||9.3%|
|Yorkshire and Humberside||99||6.6%||90||7.3%||63||5.6%||8.2%|
|Channel Islands / Living Abroad||4||0.2%||6||0.5%||9||0.8%||n/a|
Over 40 years ago, potential honours recipients would be discounted or have their honour taken away from them if they had been found to be gay. Now LGBT+ recipients are well-represented on honours lists and transgender recipients can choose which insignia they wear.
Between 2% and 4% of awards go to those who identify as LGBT+. The Office for National Statistics estimated in 2019 that 2.2% of the population identifies as LGBT+. The table below shows the percentage of recipients who identify as LGBT+ in recent honours rounds.
|Honours list||All levels|
|Queen’s Birthday 2021||5%|
|New Year 2021||4%|
|Queen’s Birthday 2020||4.3%|
|New Year 2020||3.3%|
|Queen’s Birthday 2019||2.8%|
|New Year 2019||5%|
The diversity data for previous honours lists is published at the same time as each list.