Stephen Cotterill: Gender pay gap reporting is a start, but the sector needs to do more

09 May 2018 Voices

Gender pay gap figures can only highlight so much, but should be heeded nonetheless.

As our article this month on gender pay outlines, the deadline has now passed for organisations employing over 250 employees to publish their gender pay gaps. Although there is only so much we can glean from this disclosure, it provides an opportunity to drive the debate around workplace discrimination and has the potential to prompt real progress towards a fairer society.

The data can illuminate those charities that are doing well and those that are doing poorly to some degree, but broad assumptions can be misleading. Certain organisations will skew the data due to gender disparity in the workforce because of the nature of the work they do. The size and structure of an organisation may also have an impact.

What would be interesting would be further analysis of similar data which is specific to fundraising departments – especially in large and mid-sized charities where there are significant numbers employed in the lower and middle paid quartiles. But empirical data on this is hard to come by.

On a slightly different but related tack, there is evidence that the distribution of women in the fundraising workforce is bottom-heavy, with proportionally fewer women making it to the higher earning quartiles. Past research on the top 100 fundraising directors by this magazine has shown a gender disparity at the top level, although this gap does appear to be closing. In 2015, 44 per cent of fundraising directors were female; by 2017’s survey it was a 50:50 split.

However, given the lopsided weighting of women employees occupying junior roles, it still seems imbalanced. A more accurate reflection would be 70:30 in favour of women.

All that said, the fact that it is now mandatory to make public gender pay gap information available is an important step. It is hard to believe that in 2018 there is still a significant discrepancy in what people get paid for doing the same job, and that should be exposed. No amount of “mansplaining” can remove the sense that underlying this is systemic discrimination. The charity sector might be doing better than some industries, but it, and society as a whole, still has a long way to go.


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