by Susan Smith
MEN hold the vast majority of senior roles in the UK’s top 100 charities despite the sector employing significantly more women than men.
A staggering 91 per cent of chairs of the UK’s largest charities, which look after combined assets of £56bn, are men, according to new research from Women Count, the first female charity index.
Only 17 per cent of the most senior executives in the wealthiest charities are women.
The National Galleries of Scotland is the most equal of the largest UK charities based in Scotland but has just three female trustees out of nine and both a male chair and chief executive.
The National Trust for Scotland, which underwent a major governance review in 2010, has a female chief executive, Kate Mavor, but only four of 14 board members are women.
Both however are doing significantly better than the Church of Scotland General Trustees, where only three out of 40 trustees are women.
The Women Count report also highlighted that the pay gap between male and female chief executives in the third sector is 16 per cent, rising to 30 per cent in some roles.
Commentators this week said that with 68 per cent female staff, UK charities should do more to ensure that women are represented in top jobs.
“It is really disappointing that there seems to be very few women in the top jobs in the charity sector,” said Evelyn Fraser of the Scottish Women’s Convention.
“The report talks about aiming for a gender balance of 40/60 in the third sector, which isn’t really a gender balance at all. Charities really need to look at this.
“The significance of this is that women are not involved in the decision making processes of charities. These decisions have a huge impact on services that are given to women and it means that men are making too many decisions on behalf of women.
In comparison to the private sector, the third sector does provide more opportunities for women. Only 1 per cent of FTSE 100 firms have female chairs and just 4 per cent have female chief executives.
Norma Jarboe, director of Women Count and author of the research, however said there is talent in the third sector that public and private sector organisations should tap into.
“Current leaders of charities need to take action to address the gender imbalance of trustees, their chairs and of their senior executives,” she said.
The National Trust for Scotland, which has a 50/50 gender balance amongst its staff, said of the 10 people members elected to its board at the start of 2011, four were women.
Another four men were co-opted onto the board, including its chairman Sir Kenneth Calman and the president, the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry.
A spokeswoman said: “The majority of individuals serving as trustees were voted for by our members, identified by them as having the key skills needed to lead our organisation through a period of great change.
“Clearly the priority is securing the right spread of experience, regardless of gender.”
The Women Count report also analysed the top 100 charities by annual income.
Children’s charity Barnardo’s was joint second in this list, with 10 women on a 14 member board and a female chair and chief executive. A total of 81 per cent of Barnardo’s staff are women.
A spokeswoman said: “It is not a deliberate policy to employ women, Barnardo’s operates a strict equal opportunities employment policy, although we do have a deliberate strategy of selecting the best people for the job – whether employees, volunteers or trustees – when you level the playing field it is often women who fit the bill.
“The organisation also operates family friendly policies which include flexible working hours, this enables parents to work effectively in their role with the organisation and commit time to their family.”