Being a female in the charity sector is a strange phenomenon; there are many more of us than men (2/3 of the voluntary sector is made up of women, according to NCVO) but we are almost entirely overshadowed by our male colleagues in every department. In areas of pay, seniority and recognition the men are still coming out on top – and that is in a sector that prides itself on equality and opportunity.
Recognition
In its July edition, Fundraising magazine revealed its list of top 50 influential fundraisers. 35 of them were male.
Don’t get me wrong, many of the men selected are wonderful, inspiring men, of whom I have lucky enough to be mentored by, heard speak or shared a drink with. But the fact remains that in a sector where women dominate 2:1, 70% of the people we consider most influential make up only 30% of the overall total. This is damning.
Now simply, it might just be that us ladies aren’t as influential as the blokes.
But that’s utter b*llocks and you know it.
The woman who are represented in this top 50 list are truly incredible women. Liz Tait; Laura Croudace; Rory Green; Lucy Gower are all women who’s blogs I follow, advice I have asked for and Tweets I have liked and I know so many more woman who’s names haven’t made the list that we should be listening to.
My manager Gillian Claugher is one such woman. We should all be bottling whatever it is that makes her tick and selling it as a cure for the world’s problems. I recently spoke at the Rising Star session at the IOF National Convention and met some incredible woman (Laura Hewitt; Suzanne Treharne), I went to sessions that were being presented by inspiring, interesting intelligent women. Where is their recognition?
Quite simply, the charity sector must do more to make the voices of the woman working in it heard. There should be a female only IOF group, we should be offering female to female mentoring projects. Why have we yet to create a woman in the charity sector seminar?! I honestly feel that if we started shouting about the talent and excellence that exists amongst women in the charity sector we would start to see a shift towards the equality of recognition that is not only fair, but deserved.
Seniority
Amazingly, in the 3 main organisations where I have cut my teeth as a fundraiser, all of the CEO’s have been female. I have also volunteered for two further charities, both of whom have women running the show. This is pretty incredible considering that only 25% of the top 100 charities have female CEO’s. And the old adage of boards of trustees being made up by old white men still rings true, as four of the top 100 charities had not a single female on their board and only 17% of that top 100 had a female Chair (Women Count: Charity Leaders 2012). Now, I’m not saying all of these boards are exclusively made up of old white men – I like to consider myself on the side of the intersectional argument, so I know that not all of these trustees are old or white (although I would like to talk about these statistics at a later date), but the evidence is showing us that in a vast majority of cases, the men are dominating. Clearly we have a problem.
So how do we solve this problem? Well, first of all we must give women the confidence to apply for more senior positions, this can come through training opportunities, both to allow more woman to gain the skills required to take on more senior positions and help us develop much needed leadership skills for these sort of roles. We must change the cycle of women’s careers, so that a break from work to have children does not permanently stunt progression. Women are so fearful of the effect having kids will have on their ability to progress that half of all woman polled by the AAT would consider not having children at all because of the damage they feel it would do to their careers. This is simply not good enough, with the traditional dynamic of family evolving beyond recognition, we must support women who wish to have a successful career enter the place of work and stay on an ascending career ladder regardless of their choice to enter into motherhood.
Moreover, there must be an attitude change. The role of women in the work place, even in 2016, can in some instances be considered ‘ornamental’. I am still hearing stories of sexual harassment and lewd behaviour iand a general feeling that woman can’t take on senior roles because they lack the required strength, often being described as ‘Emotional’ or ‘hormonal’. For a long time the attitude that has existed is that men who are ambitious are ‘Go-getters’ while women with the same attitude are ‘Bossy’ or worse ‘Bitch’.
Not only is this incredibly insulting, it is also damaging the future success of our workplaces. It is no secret that a balanced board is in a position of favour as funders begin to undertake all round due diligence when considering where they should direct their big cash offerings. It could be the case that by not developing female leaders we are not only missing out on valuable experience and insight, but that we are also letting our beneficiaries down.
Pay
Oh this is the big one. It baffles me that in the 21st century we are still struggling with the concept that if a man and woman do the same job they deserve the same pay. Why is this so hard to understand??
The TPP Recruitment Gender Pay Gap report for 2015 showed that there is a mean gender pay gap of 16.7% in the Third Sector. For some perspective, the average wage for someone in the sector is £25,000. So if you’re a woman earning this salary you can expect your male counterparts to be earning an extra £4,175 a year than you are. If we use this average for a lifetime career in the sector (say 21 – 65 years old) our male colleagues will earn an extra £183,700 more than us. You could buy a house for that.
This is even more shocking when you think about the fact that women more than men manage the emotional labour of the workplace, often taking on extra work and activities without the recognition of extra pay or benefits. You’ll find in your workplace it will often be the woman taking on the pastoral care of colleagues, your female colleague will usually be the one taking on extra project work or working evenings and weekends. This isn’t a slight on men, but more a criticism of the patriarchy as a whole. Women, as the more sentient of the sexes, are expected to manage this emotional labour and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the fact that this is not considered extra work and therefore reflected in pay is certainly a cause for concern.
There must be a radical turn around soon if we are to continue to keep bright, influential women in the workforce, because no longer will we accept being paid less to do more work (that emotional labour) than our male colleagues with minimal recognition. The sector must get over the cultural hangover that diminishes women’s worth. Many of our charities preach equality and diversity and often we deliver this for our beneficiaries, but we must also start putting thought into action for our employees too.