Diversity in the charity sector

Leading the way for the sector to truly represent and better serve our society.


Over the past few years increasing attention has been drawn to the lack of diversity at both senior leadership and board level in charities. This includes reports by Inclusive BoardsThe Charity Commission and Green Park alongside a number of opinion pieces in the sector press.

ACEVO also collects diversity data in its annual CEO Pay and Equalities Survey. For over 10 years the survey has found unacceptably low numbers of CEOs are from a black, Asian or minoritised ethnic background. In 2008 4.2% of respondents reported being from a BAME background, in 2018 the figure was 3%, rising slightly to 6% in our most recent survey.

Our vision

Civil society leaders should be representative of the communities they operate in and the people they support. Anyone who seeks to become a civil society leader, or who is currently a leader, should have the same opportunities for career development.


  • In 2017 we published ACEVO’s new policy strategy in which we included working towards greater racial diversity as one of our five key policy priorities.
  • In 2018 ACEVO facilitated two roundtables with sector leaders to discuss practical steps ACEVO can take to improve racial diversity in senior leadership. 
  • As a result of these roundtables in July 2018 ACEVO and the Institute of Fundraising asked civil society leaders to commit to a set of eight principles to address the diversity deficit in the charity sector. You can read the report and sign up to the principles here.
  • Following the release of the diversity principles, ACEVO made five commitments to additional activity over the following 12 months. 
  • Our 2019 Pay and Equalities Survey examined the diversity of the sector in greater detail. The report can be found here.
  • In January 2019 we organised an introductory workshop for members on unconscious bias led by equality and human rights charity brap.
  • We have convened two meetings with infrastructure and umbrella bodies to discuss our respective work on the equity, diversity and inclusion agenda in order to prevent duplication of effort and discuss areas of collaboration. 
  • In May 2019 we launched the Making Diversity Count project in partnership with Voice4Change England. Read more about it here and see how you can get involved.

Race Advisory Group

In order to advise our programme of work going forward we have convened a Race Advisory Group. The aim of the group is to advise and support ACEVO to achieve greater representation of black and Asian people in senior leadership positions in the charity sector. Being specific about working to promote black and Asian representation should allow us to make comparisons with data collected through the census which also uses the term black and Asian for grouping data for reporting on ethnicity data.

Our race advisory group members are:

What next?

Alongside our project with Voice4Change England, over the next 12 – 18 months ACEVO will be piloting a new programme for chairs and chief executives who want to work to the diversity principles. We will also be working with black and Asian leaders to increase representation in the sector press and considering how we can support the development of fairer recruitment practices. 

ACEVO diversity figures

Unconscious Bias training

Unconscious biases are biases that we are often totally unaware of, but nevertheless, act upon. They influence decision-making in all aspects of life. We process a person’s ethnicity, gender, age, size, looks, disability and other characteristics before we even know we’ve done it.

In December 2018, ACEVO staff attended a training session on unconscious bias led by Natasha Broomfield-Reid, director at Diverse Matters. A session was also held for our trustees in July 2019. Learning outcomes included:

  • Greater understanding and awareness of the benefits of diversity and inclusion to organisations and performance.
  • A greater understanding of the importance of inclusive recruitment and recruiting underrepresented communities.
  • Understanding of one’s own and commonly held biases and impact this may have within the organisation.
  • Ability to identify key tools to help manage unconscious bias.

If you want to know more about our work on diversity or would like to get involved in our work on diversity please email Kristiana Wrixon, head of policy at ACEVO.

We represent our members' interests in five key policy areas

If you have any queries please email info@acevo.org.uk
or call 020 7014 4600.