Advantage NFP Fundraiser

Stability returning but progress needed to make sector leadership diverse, inclusive & equitable

Melanie May | 10 October 2022 | News

Two business women of colour talk, smiling, in an office. By Christina Morillo on Pexels

The sector is not making progress at the pace necessary for civil society to be diverse, inclusive and equitable, ACEVO’s Pay and Equalities 2022 report has found.

It finds that while some stability is returning to the sector after Covid-19, much more effort needs to be devoted to increasing diversity and equity within sector leadership – just a small percentage of leaders are from Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic backgrounds, while the gender pay gap has risen in the past year.

ACEVO’s 2022 Pay and Equalities Survey gathered 897 responses between 4 April and 5 May 2022. Overall, the results demonstrate that civil society is beginning to look ahead but that there is still some way to go for sector leadership to be truly reflective of the communities it represents.


Recruiting and managing millennials, a course by Bruce Tait.

Salaries & working practices

The median annual basic salary reported by sector leaders in 2022 was £56,000. While during Covid-19 one in 10 leaders took a pay cut, salary reviews are now gradually becoming more common with 58% of leaders reporting a pay rise in 2022 – up from 37% last year. Greater flexibility in working practices is becoming more common with 71% of CEOs saying they benefit from flexible working policies.

Personal development

The report shows that access to personal development has been steadily decreasing since 2018, from 60% to 50% this year; 37% of respondents reported having no regular appraisal of their performance, the highest percentage yet. While 83% of respondents were satisfied with their job security, a slight increase from 2021, satisfaction in the board’s support for investing in CEO development continues to decline. Only 48% reporting satisfaction in 2022 from a high of 60% in 2017 – a trend that ACEVO wants to see reversed.


ACEVO’s report also highlights a need to prioritise accelerating the diversity of leadership, with responses to the 2022 survey indicating that only 7% were from Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic backgrounds, in line with previous years. The gender pay gap rose to 10.8% from 7.6% in 2021, reversing the downward trend that had been achieved over the past few years, with male respondents reporting a median salary of £60K compared with £53,500 for female respondents.

Socio economic diversity

For the first time, the 2022 survey included questions on socio economic diversity and responses indicate that 74% of CEOs attended state funded schools with 66% of respondents reporting that neither parent had attended university. The proportion of leaders who are comfortable to report that they consider themselves to have an impairment, learning condition or learning difference increased to 20%, close to the 21% of working age adults nationally who declare an impairment.

The sector, ACEVO concludes, is not making progress at the pace necessary for civil society to be diverse, inclusive and equitable, and investment in leadership development must not become a forgotten necessity. 

Commenting, Jane Ide, CEO, ACEVO said:

“It’s encouraging that we’re seeing a return to some stability in senior leader pay and reward and leaders’ own sense of job security in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Stability is important to enable leaders to plan ahead effectively with certainty.


“It’s to be welcomed that more flexibility in working practices is becoming the norm at senior leadership level but it’s concerning that the trend to invest in ongoing professional development of leaders is declining. It is important that chairs and boards return to investment in leadership development to ensure that leaders’ skills and knowledge keep pace with the demands of the role and that they are equipped to deal with the constant challenges that face the sector. Development is not a ‘nice to have’ if leaders are to continue to make the biggest possible difference.


“It’s clear that increasing diversity, equity and inclusion of sector leaders is not accelerating at the necessary pace and must remain at the centre of focused attention. We need to ask ourselves what positive action we need to take to encourage greater change and accelerate progress. We remain committed at ACEVO to work to support our members and the wider sector make the biggest possible difference.”