The Gender Pay Gap in the Nonprofit Sector

Posted on
6 Mar 2020
Catherine Smitch McKiernan, Head of HR Consulating for Adare Human Resource Management

Adare Human Resource Management's recent HR Barometer Survey found that 45% of Irish organisations believe their gender pay gap is either at or below the national average, but just 14% actually record this data. 70% of surveyed organisations have done nothing to address gender balance in the past 12 months, and don’t have plans to implement any initiatives in the coming year. 

The Irish nonprofit sector's pay gap 

A 2018 report by The Community Foundation for Ireland (CFI) found that the median gender pay gap for managers in the community, voluntary, and charity sector was 14.2%. The same report highlighted the related issues of gender imbalance at the highest levels; twice as many women work in the sector as men, but men are over-represented in more senior roles. 

In the UK, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) reports the average pay gap between men and women sits at 7%. 

A need for change across the board 

These figures point to a need for real change within organisations to create more equal opportunities and to drive success and growth. To achieve any meaningful gender balance, a holistic approach must be taken. Awareness is just step one; practical policies and practices should be put in place to back up the intention for real change.  

There is a need to implement measurable, practical strategies to create a fairer and more balanced landscape, including setting meaningful targets for change and involving both genders to deliver a better balance. This is particularly important for the community, voluntary, and charity sector given the levels of expected transparency and regulatory compliance. 

In addition to the ethical argument for gender balance, an equal-opportunity workplace delivers far-reaching benefits. Getting the balance right across organisations drives a more successful and cohesive working environment for everybody. This includes growth in income, better decision-making, and an engaged workforce with opportunities for everyone. 

Of course, for change to happen, the workplace must become a more welcoming environment for both men and women. Balance is not exclusively a women’s issue. It involves everyone from the top down, and success in shifting the dial comes when balance is embraced by all. There are so many practical initiatives that can be introduced, but these cannot just be targeted at women: there must be a universal approach.  

Adare Human Resource Management, a member of The Wheel, offers guidance on Gender Balance in the Workplace and Gender Pay Gap Reporting. For further information, contact Catherine Smith McKiernan, Head of HR Consulting, Adare Human Resource Management.