Charity CEOs survey: Gender pay gap widens amid lack of progress to improve diversity

The gap in pay between male and female charity chief executives is widening as the sector continues to be blighted by a lack of diversity in leadership roles, a survey has revealed.

The findings have emerged in ACEVO’s 2022 Pay and Equalities Survey, which found that a downward trend in recent years in the gender pay gap has been reversed among charity leaders.

While the gap in male and female charity leader pay was 7.6% last year, this has increased to 10.8% during 2022, found the survey of almost 900 charity chiefs.

Male CEOs receive an average salary of £60,000 a year compared to £53,000 for female charity bosses.

The survey also found that only 7% of charity leaders are from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds, which is in line with previous years.

“There is yet some way to go to achieve ambitions for sector leadership to be truly reflective of the communities it represents,” said ACEVO.

“It remains the case the sector is not making progress at the pace necessary for civil society to be diverse, inclusive and equitable, and that investment in leadership development must not become a forgotten necessity.”

Leaders reporting they have an impairment or a learning condition or difference, increased to 20%, just below the average among working age adults of 21%.

This year’s survey also included socio-economic diversity questions for the first time. This found that 74% of charity leaders attended state school and two thirds reported that neither of their parents had attended university.

ACEVO chief executive Jade Ide added: “It’s clear that increasing diversity, equity and inclusion of sector leaders is not accelerating at the necessary pace and must remain at the centre of focused attention.

“We need to ask ourselves what positive action we need to take to encourage greater change and accelerate progress.”

Lack of progress on diversity

ACEVO’s survey follows a raft of evidence around a lack of progress to improve diversity in the charity sector.

Last month a study by Manchester based charity Reclaim found a lack of working-class leaders in the anti-poverty sector. Most staff working for charities and think tanks combating poverty think their sector has a “class diversity problem”.

Research by Charity Times in August revealed that only 2% of chief executives at the UK’s most well-known charities have not been white over the last 50 years. Out of 33 charity leaders since 1970, only eight have been people of colour.

More charity leaders over that period have been called David than have been recruited from Black, Asian or minority ethnic communities, this research found.

Among action being taken is a pledge by 42 environmental charities to improve areas including diversity reporting and being anti-racist. This is in response to latest figures showing that only 4.8% of staff in this sector are Black, Asian or from ethnic minorities, compared to 12.6% of the working age population.

Amid concerns around lack of equality and diversity in leadership roles, ACEVO's survey also revealed that the number of charity CEOs reporting pay rises has increased over the last year.

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