10th January 2019 4 minutes read

34 of the UK's 100 largest charities have no ethnic mimority representation of their Leadership Teams

  • More than a third (34) of the largest 100 UK charities by turnover have no ethno-cultural diversity in their senior leadership team
  • Only 8.1% of senior positions in the largest 100 UK charities are held by ethnic minority leaders and at the most senior level of Chair, CEO and CFO this drops to 6.2%
  • While 41% of senior positions in the top 100 UK Charities are held by women, female representation in the Top 3 roles of Chair, CEO and CFO is significantly less at just 27.5%
  • Women hold just 23% of Chair positions across the largest 100 UK charities

New research from Green Park, the Executive Search and Interim Management consultancy, reveals that 34 of the 100 largest UK charities, categorised by turnover, have all white senior leadership teams.

The analysis highlights that the largest charitable institutions have incredibly limited ethno-cultural representation at the highest levels of management, with 92% of the senior leadership team being white.

The disparity is even greater in the Top 3 most senior positions of Chair, CEO and CFO, with only 6.2% of these roles are held by those from a BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic) background.  Across all senior leadership roles in leading UK charities, just 8.1%  have a BAME background, compared to 13% representation across the UK population2. People of Chinese and Other Asian ethno-cultural backgrounds are virtually non-existent among charity leaders, comprising just 0.3% of the sample analysed.

The findings are published in Green Park’s ‘Third Sector Leadership 2,000’ report, a review of diversity in the largest 100 UK charities. It emphasises that there is still a need for considerable work if the UK’s philanthropic organisations are to close the diversity gap and better reflect the population segments they seek to help.

Female Representation

Women hold only 41% of senior leadership positions in leading UK charities, despite representing 51% of the UK population. At the Top 3 level this is even less at just 27.5%, demonstrating that there may still be a glass ceiling holding women back from the most senior decision-making roles. With 77% of Chair positions currently being held by men; the role of Chair is the most male dominated of the Top 3 roles.

Ethnic minority females are nearly a third less likely to hold a position at Top 20 level, (Board of Trustees and Executive Leadership Team,) within a UK top charity than ethnic minority males. Out of the 8.1% ethnic minorities at this level, 4.8% are male and 3.3% are female. Ethnic minority males are five times more likely to be appointed CEO, and almost four times more likely to be appointed CFO, than ethnic minority women.

Sub-Sector Analysis

Based on the sample, Animal charities display the lowest level of ethno-cultural diversity at under 2% of the senior leadership. Three other sub-sectors (Health, Mental Health & Disability; Housing & Social Care; and Justice & Welfare) also reveal a striking absence of diversity, each significantly below the overall average of an 8.1% representation. NGOs (principally foreign aid charities) have the highest level of ethno-cultural diversity (15.8%) amongst leaders.  Along with Faith-based charities and Trusts & Foundations these three sub-sectors show higher than average levels of minority representation.

Trusts & Foundations charities that have the lowest level of female representation, with Faith-based charities coming in second lowest with 29.3% representation.

 Table One:  Representation in UK charities by sector

Sector BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) Female
Animal 2% 40%
Arts & Heritage 9% 42%
Multiple Sectors 10% 36%
Faith 11% 29%
Trusts & Foundations 10% 26%
Heath, Mental Health & Disability 3% 44%
Housing & Social Care 5% 40%
Justice & Welfare 5% 42%
Medical 10% 38%
NGO 16% 43%
Young People 8% 42%

Source:  Green Park

Kai Adams, Partner Charities and Social Enterprise Practice, Green Park: “These 100 charity organisations are among the most prominent in the public consciousness.  They represent some of the most recognised brands.  At a time when public scrutiny and trust is volatile, their visibility confers an even greater degree of responsibility to be representative.

Whether diversity is inherited or acquired, visible or cognitive, we believe that no organisation can sustainably deal with change without increasing the agility, skills and customer orientation within its leadership team.  We also know there is a clear correlation between those qualities, the diversity of the team, and its ability to protect the future relevance and impact of the organisation.  We firmly believe that for the charities represented in this report to thrive and drive positive social change, it will be vital to widen the gate without lowering the bar.”

Charitable Rankings

Green Park’s ‘Third Sector Leadership 2,000’ report includes a Diversity Index ranking the largest 100 UK charities on the successful diversification of their leadership teams.

Averaging the Ethnocultural Diversity and Gender Diversity percentage of the leadership team for each Trust and Charitable Institution, the Diversity Index finds the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) as the most diverse UK charity. VSO is an international development charity with a vision for a “world without poverty” and recruits professionals to work as volunteers, living and working alongside local populations in developing countries.

Top UK Charities Diversity Index Top 253

  1. VSO (international development charity)
  2. Islamic Relief Worldwide (humanitarian and development organisation)
  3. Marie Stopes International (leading provider of sexual and reproductive health services in the UK)
  4. ActionAid (Campaigner for rights of women and girls)
  5. Girl’s Day School’s Trust (UK’s leading network of independent girls’ schools)
  6. Plan International UK (leading children’s charity)
  7. Children’s Investment Fund Foundation UK (world’s largest philanthropy that focuses specifically on improving children’s lives.)
  8. Nursing and Midwifery Council (regulate nurses and midwives in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)
  9. Royal Shakespeare Company (major British theatre company)
  10. National Autistic Society (leading UK charity for autistic people)

The Green Park ‘Third Sector Leadership 2,000’ examines the backgrounds of 1,866 individuals in total. The aggregate analysis of the cohort by gender and ethno-cultural background is derived from a unique software, using a database of 1.2 billion individual records globally. Designed by Richard Webber, developer of consumer classification systems Mosaic and Acorn, it uses 2.5 million family names and 0.8 million personal names to generate algorithms that can associate individual names to gender, ethnic or cultural identity.

Download the full Green Park Third Sector Leadership 2,000, click here.

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