4% of large charities report their disability pay gaps, research finds

14 Aug 2023 Research

By Hyejin Kang / Adobe

Only 4% of the largest 250 charities in the country currently report their disability pay gap, according to research by Civil Society. 

Analysis of the top 250 charities by income, according to Charity Finance’s 100 and 250 Indexes, shows that 11 organisations reported the difference in average pay between their disabled and non-disabled employees.

For the 11 charities that provided data, the average disability pay gap was -0.26%, meaning there was no significant difference in average pay for disabled and non-disabled employees.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the disability pay gap for the UK was 12.8% in 2021, which is the latest data available. This means charity's disability pay gap falls well below the national average. 

However, results varied between charities from 13.4% in favour of non-disabled staff at Unicef to 26.6% in favour of disabled staff at Scope.

Many charities said in their reports that they chose to report their disability pay gaps to promote transparency and accountability. 

Highest pay gaps

While it is a requirement for all organisations with more than 250 employees to submit their gender pay gap, it is not compulsory for them to report on any others that might exist within the organisation. 

However, some organisations have voluntarily reported their disability pay gaps for the year 2022.

Three charities reported a zero disability pay gap, three had a pay gap in favour of disabled staff, while the remaining five had pay gaps that disadvantaged disabled colleagues. 

The charity with the highest disability pay gap in the sample was Unicef with 13.4%. This means that, on average, disabled colleagues at Unicef make 87p for every £1 their non-disabled colleagues make. This is the first year the charity reported on its disability pay gap, and told Civil Society it was “an important step for transparency and accountability”. 

Jon Sparkes, executive director at Unicef UK said: “We voluntarily collected and published our ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation pay gap because we want to focus attention on diversity and inclusion at Unicef UK; to show our commitment to act and to ensure that we are tackling issues openly and meaningfully.”

Meanwhile, disability charity Scope reported the lowest disability pay gap of -26.6%, meaning non-disabled staff make 73p for every £1 their disabled colleagues earn on average. The charity has been reporting its disability pay gap since 2019. 

Underrepresentation of disabled people in higher pay grades

Some charities also reported the distribution of disabled staff across their pay grades.

The Prince’s Trust, which at 12.2% had the second highest disability pay gap of the sample, reported the figures in its pay gap report.

Some 6% of its 1,055 staff members disclosed a disability compared to 87% who declared they did not have a disability. The remainder did not declare their disability status. 

The diagram below show over 70% of disabled staff (in the “Yes” row) at the Prince’s Trust sit within its lowest pay grades (quartiles 1 and 2).  

“Our disability pay gap appears to be driven by under-representation of colleagues who have declared themselves as having a disability in our highest earning roles. At this stage, the reason for this underrepresentation is unclear,” the report says.

The report states that the charity is looking to improve this as part of its “commitments to inclusivity and understanding our pay gaps”. 

Meanwhile, the Nursing and Midwifery Council reported a disability pay gap of -11.8% in 2022, a decrease from the year before when it sat at -9.8%.

This means non-disabled staff earn 88p for every £1 their disabled colleagues make on average.

According to its pay gap report, 7.7% of the charity’s employees are disabled, 80.5% non-disabled, and the remainder did not disclose disability data. 

Some 9% of employees in both its highest and lowest pay grades reported a disability, both up from 5% in 2021. 

Scope: ‘Important employers report on their disability pay gap’

Alison Kerry, head of communications at Scope, said it was important for organisations to monitor pay for their disabled staff as many “don’t get paid fairly, or have the same opportunities to progress their careers”.

“It’s important employers report on their disability pay gap, as well as the number of disabled people they employ in each pay bracket,” she said.

“To fully get to grips with the issue, organisations need to understand how many disabled people they employ at each level of the organisation and, in the long term, work out how many disabled staff are progressing to more senior roles. Organisations stand to benefit by attracting and supporting disabled talent at all levels of their organisation.   

“We’d also recommend gathering and reporting on a broad range of disability workforce data, from tracking the number of disabled people they employ to the number of adjustments offered. This could include measures such as remote working and flexible hours. It will help employers make sure that their working practices are as accessible and inclusive as possible so disabled employees can thrive.”

Guide Dogs: ‘Ensures transparency and accountability’

Amanda Bennett, head of diversity, equity and inclusion at Guide Dogs, told Civil Society the charity chooses to report its disability and ethnicity pay gaps to promote transparency and accountability. 

“Although ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting are not required by law, they are a commitment of our diversity equity and inclusion strategy, this is important to us as we believe it ensures transparency and accountability,” she said.

“In order to drive up our diversity, we need to understand our position and be accountable for it now and in the future, this is crucial in fulfilling our commitments to equity, diversity and inclusion.”

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the free Civil Society daily news bulletin here.

More on