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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Ethnic minority leaders remain poorly represented in the sector


Much more needs to be done to level up

Charities still aren’t doing enough to promote leaders from ethic minorities, a report has shown.

Acevo’s Pay and Equalities Survey 2023 reveals that just 7% of charity leaders hail from ethnic minority backgrounds – the same figure as last year.

Ethnic minorities make up at least 18% of the England and Wales population with around 5% identifying as ethnic minority in Scotland.

The gender pay gap also makes for disappointing reading at 8.3 per cent. Where women do occupy leadership roles these are mostly in smaller charities.

Jane Ide, chief executive of Acevo, said: “To be frank, I am deeply disappointed and frustrated by much of what I read in this year’s report.

“We are seeing no progress on the representation of Black, Asian or minoritised ethnic leaders in our sector and the gender pay gap remains significant.

“Around half of our leaders do not have access to professional development, and a third are not given the courtesy of a clear, regular process for a review of their pay and conditions.

“Our sector has a problem: over the next decade and beyond we are likely to see increased competition for talent from other sectors as BCorps and mainstream businesses position themselves as great places to work for those who want to make a difference in the world – but with all the pay and benefits that come from working in the private sector.

“If our sector is going to be sustainable in the future we have to think hard about how we create pipelines of talent and skills, and then retain and develop those pipelines into a leadership that can navigate the challenges of the future with agility and intelligence.

“For the sake of our sector but above all for the people and causes we are all here to serve we have to address these issues. And most of them are entirely within our gift to address right now, if we choose to do so.”

One glimmer of hope was a rise in representation for people with disabilities which rose to 25% from 20% last year.

It found that the median salary among the 826 charity leaders who took part was £58,863, which Acevo said was a “modest increase” from the £56,000 reported in last year’s study. 

Nearly 75% of chief executive respondents reported receiving a salary increase over the course of the year.

Elsewhere the survey found that 83% of respondents would recommend the sector as a desirable place to work, with more than 70% saying they hoped to remain in the sector over the next five years.

The head of charity chief executives body Acevo is “deeply disappointed and frustrated” that the proportion of ethnic minority leaders in the voluntary sector remains low. 

Acevo said that “barely half the sample (49 per cent) were satisfied with the chair and board’s support for investing time and resources in CEO development”. 



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