Voluntary sector urged to take ‘ambitious action’ to recruit staff from poorer backgrounds

Charities have been urged to take “ambitious action” to recruit staff from poorer backgrounds, after data showed one in five young people from low-income households believe charities do not pay employees fairly.

The call came from the social mobility charity EY Foundation, which said the sector must become “more accessible” to people of all backgrounds.

A poll of 16- to 24-year-olds in families where the annual household income was less than £16,000, commissioned by EY Foundation, found that 20 per cent were put off a career in the charity sector because they believed that “charities do not pay staff fairly or offer good benefits and flexibility”.

One in four believed that charities offer “poor opportunities to develop a career”, while the same proportion said the sector provided “a poor variety of different job roles”.

Just over 40 per cent said they had high levels of confidence and trust in charities. The most popular reason for not trusting the sector was uncertainty about “how charities work and spend their money”.

It found that 7 per cent already worked in the charity sector.

More than half of all those polled said better pay and greater flexibility would make them more likely to consider charity jobs in the future.

A review of the evidence on younger people from low-income backgrounds and their access to employment in the charity sector, published in March by the Centre for Charity Effectiveness, found that “entry positions into the third sector are poorly paid or unpaid, which is financially inaccessible to a lot of black and ethnic minority people due to the prevalent intersection between being an ethnic minority and working-class within the UK”.

Jodie McNally, interim co-chief executive at EY Foundation, said she hoped the data and research “will encourage charities, including ourselves, to look at how we become more accessible to a broader range of young people and address the barriers that have been identified”.

“Recruitment and retention appear to be a particular issue, with diversity not prioritised and no sector-wide push to take ambitious action.”

The data was based on polling of 1,000 people, carried out by Savanta in April.

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