Gender balance of top charity chief executives lags behind wider sector

31 Aug 2017 News

Over 70 per cent of chief executives at the country’s largest charities are men, according to the latest survey from Charity Finance. 

Charity Finance, published by Civil Society Media, found that 71 out of 100 chief executives at the largest 100 charities are men. The full report will be published online and in print tomorrow with the September issue of the magazine. 

Some 27 charities had female chief executives and two had vacant positions.

This is the highest number of women chief executives recorded in the past 10 years but it is only slightly higher than the 22 recorded in 2007.

'We need to look at the way the sector operates'

Acevo chief executive Vicky Browning said: “Clearly it’s encouraging that the Charity Finance survey shows an improvement, howsoever small, on the number of women CEOs in the top 100.

“The picture revealed is, however, far less positive than that shown by our Pay and Equality Survey of the wider sector where, for the first time, over half of CEOs are women.

“Women comprise 65 per cent of the sector’s entire workforce. Diversity tapers up the higher up the ladder you go and we need to look at the way the sector operates to tackle this issue which becomes even more evident in our largest charities.”

Acevo’s annual pay survey, published in January, reviewed 473 chief executives and found that women outnumbered men for the first time, holding 58 per cent of the top roles.

Lack of BAME chief executives

Of the 60 chief executives who gave their ethnicity, 49 gave their ethnicity as white British, more than 80 per cent.

Five others gave their ethnicity as white other, European or Irish. Four were of Asian origin and two of African origin.

Acevo's survey earlier found that just three per cent of charity chief executives were from a BAME background.

Browning welcomed the fact that 10 per cent of respondents to the Charity Finance survey were from a BAME background.

“But even this is still not as representative as we would like," she added. "Further action needs to be taken, starting with ensuring that diversity is considered throughout the recruitment process – whether it’s at entry level or when looking for a new CEO."

This year’s results also show charity chief executives are at their youngest since 2007, with an average age of 54 years and two months, but that they are also the least experienced in their current role, averaging four years and seven months, - almost a two-year decrease on 2015.

However, this year’s chief executives’ overall time in the sector is still relatively high at 16 years and four months on average.

The full Chief Executives Survey 2017 will be in the September issue of Charity Finance. To subcribe, click here.


Civil Society Media is hosting its People & Culture Conference on 20 September 2017 which includes a session on the women in charity paradox. For more information, and to book, click here.



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