Gender-based disparities persist at leadership level, report shows

Male charity chief executives remain considerably more likely than their female counterparts to be paid more, lead larger organisations, receive an appraisal and get feedback from their chair, new research shows. 

Acevo’s Pay and Equalities Survey 2020, published by the charity leaders body today, shows that although the average gender pay gap narrowed slightly from 13.8 per cent to 12.1 per cent in favour of men since the last study, significant inequality remains. 

The figures, which are based on a survey of almost 500 charity leaders, show that 37 per cent of male chief executives received an appraisal compared with 22 per cent of female leaders. 

It also showed that 73 per cent of male chiefs said they received feedback from their chair, compared with 62 per cent of their female counterparts. 

The report says there has been a gradual increase in the number of female chief executives, but a “a persistent pay gap among charity CEOs continues to represent a stubborn trend over time”. 

It says: "It is likely that this gap is informed by the distribution of male/female CEOs across different sizes of voluntary organisation. 

“It is clear in the 2020 sample that female CEO respondents are likelier than male peers to be leading smaller organisations, while male CEOs are more represented in medium to larger organisations."

Acevo, which has conducted a pay and equalities survey for more than 15 years, says in the new report that there has been “no progress on representation of BAME chief executives”.

White chief executives accounted for 94 per cent of respondents, which is up one percentage point on last year. 

The report shows that average chief executive pay was almost £56,000, the highest since 2013 and an increase of almost £4,000 since the previous study. 

The previous survey was conducted 18 months earlier, which means the pay increase between last year's study and this one is £2,700 when inflation is taken into account.

The previous report showed that average charity chief executive pay had risen for the first time since 2013.

The latest study, which took place between 9 March and 3 April, coincided with the UK going into lockdown, so the figures provide a pre-Covid snapshot that might have altered considerably in the months since.

The document says the small number of BAME respondents make it difficult to analyse trends, but those that replied reported a median salary of £63,000 compared with £56,500 for white sector leaders.

London chief executives earn on average £78,000, which was the highest. Leaders in Scotland are the lowest paid, at an average of £42,000. 

Only 54 per cent of all respondents agreed their board prioritised their wellbeing. 

Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: “[This] has been a year of personal and professional challenges on a scale that many people have not experienced before. 

“These challenges undoubtedly [have an] impact on the wellbeing of chief executives, who need to know that trustees prioritise their responsibility as a manager.

“Many of the challenges found in this year’s survey are not new, but faster progress needs to be made to tackle them. The response to lockdown from charities has been inspirational and it has also shown the speed at which change can happen if it is deemed to be essential.”

The full report costs £48 for Acevo members and £65 for non-members. It is available here.

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