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Top NFP Women Breaking Gender Pay Barrier

7 April 2015 at 12:56 pm
Xavier Smerdon
EXCLUSIVE: Women CEOs in Australia’s largest Not for Profit organisations are matching and often outdoing the salaries of their male counterparts, bucking the trend of the business sector, according to the latest national Salary Survey by social economy hub, Pro Bono Australia.

Xavier Smerdon | 7 April 2015 at 12:56 pm


Top NFP Women Breaking Gender Pay Barrier
7 April 2015 at 12:56 pm

Women CEOs in Australia’s largest Not for Profit organisations are matching and often outdoing the salaries of their male counterparts, bucking the trend of the business sector, according to the latest national Salary Survey by social economy hub, Pro Bono Australia.

And while the proportion of women Chief Executive Officers of Australian charities with budgets over $10 million is smaller, the salary survey reveals they are earning as much as 20 per cent more than their male counterparts.

Now in its third year, Pro Bono Australia's annual Not for Profit Salary Survey aims to provide reliable salary benchmarking data in 13 key roles in the social economy.

Survey results analyst, Andrew Beveridge of Beveridge Consulting, said when comparing Chief Executive Officer pay by gender, it’s particularly important to take into account organisational size.

“As males make up the greater proportion of CEOs in larger organisations, an overall average across these Not for Profit organisations is, ignoring organisational size, likely to see male CEOs earn more on average than female CEOs,” Beveridge said.

“This is indeed what we do see, with male CEOs earning around seven per cent more than female CEOs at an overall level. However when we control for organisational size, we see quite a different picture.

“There are some interesting if not surprising findings – particularly around gender – where we found that the larger the organisation size, the lower the proportion of female CEOs but the higher the salary.”

The survey found that for women CEOs in large organisations with budgets between $10 million and $50 million their average annual salary was more than $248,000 compared to their male counterparts in a similar Not for Profit who are earning around $207,000.

“In our data the CEOs of smaller Not for Profit organisations are more likely to be female, but they tend to earn either the same as equivalent male CEOs or even less based on number of employees,” Beveridge said.

The salary survey included data sets for 1,300 individual salary packages. This includes 438 for the role of Chief Executive Officer, plus an analysis of gender differences in pay for Chief Executive Officers and the the impact of salary review frequency on Chief Executive Officer pay outcomes.

“The larger the organisation, based on number of employees and operating budget, the lower the proportion of female leaders. For example, in organisations with less than $500,000 operating budget, 75 per cent of CEOs are women. In our survey data, this reduces to 47 per cent when you reach organisations with a budget of $10 million to $50 million,” Beveridge said.

“Based on the data collected, as a female if you do make it to CEO of a larger Not for Profit organisation, you’re likely to earn somewhat more than a male within a similar sized organisation.”

(All figures are for Total Remuneration Excluding Incentives.)

In January 2015, the Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency found that that women in the top corporate management ranks are paid less than their male peers. Based on full-time total remuneration, the Agency found that the largest gender pay gap occurs at the key management personnel level (28.9 per cent), followed by other executives  and general managers (27.5 per cent). From the senior management level, female representation steadily declined with women comprising 27.8 per cent of executive and general manager corporate roles in Australia.

Agency figures show that at the top corporate management level of Chief Executive officer, women hold 17.3 per cent of positions.

“Clearly our surveying of Not for Profit organisations suggests the sector is starting to break down some of those salary barriers and numbers. Of the 36 CEOs surveyed in the $10million to $50million Not for Profits, 47 per cent are women,” Beveridge said.

“These findings reinforce the need to have salary reviews and benchmarking processes that are as objective as possible, and not prone to gender bias. We found that those employees who have regular salary reviews are getting better paid.

“This has long term implications for organisations. Those employees without regular salary reviews might cost the organisation less in the short term, but are at greater risk of moving on as their salary becomes less and less competitive. The cost of recruitment, training and downtime is significant, particularly for senior roles. These costs are likely to outweigh the short term benefits achieved.

“There’s also a need to look at why females are less likely to become CEOs of larger Not for Profit organisations, given the large pool of female CEOs in smaller organisations.”

The salary survey looked at 13 job titles:

1.      Chief Executive Officer / Head of Organisation (Tier One) – 438 cases

2.      General Manager (Tier Two) – 179 cases

3.      Operations / Administration Manager (Tier Two) – 103 cases

4.      Finance Manager / Treasurer (Tier Two) – 65 cases

5.      Marketing / Fundraising / Communications Manager (Tier Two) – 124 cases

6.      Human Resources Manager (Tier Two) – 50 cases

7.      Services Manager (Tier Two) – 94 cases

8.      Finance Manager (Tier Three) – 20 cases

9.      Administration Assistant – 42 cases

10.       Grants Manager (Tier Two) – 29 cases

11.       Marketing / Fundraising / Communications Manager (Tier Three) – 82 cases

12.       Philanthropy Manager (Tier Three) – 22 cases

13.       Research / Social Policy Manager (Tier Two) – 33 cases

14.       Volunteering Manager (Tier Three) – 36 cases

The Pro Bono Australia survey participants had an average practical experience in the field of work of nearly 16 years. A high proportion of the respondents had a Bachelor Degree/Bachelor Degree (Honours) level of education (40 per cent), followed by Masters Degree (27 per cent) and 75 per cent of respondents work five days or more, followed by 11 per cent working four days.

Pro Bono Australia’s Salary Survey is sponsored by HLB Mann Judd, an Australasian association of business advisers and accountants.

HLB Mann Judd Partner and Not for Profit specialist, Darryl Swindells, said he is encouraged by the results of the Survey which show some clear trends in gender equality being addressed in the NFP sector.  

“This reinforces the need for salary reviews to be objective and based on solid, reputable data and the Survey certainly provides this,” Swindells said.

“We believe this to be the largest survey of its kind in Australia and therefore an indispensable decision making tool on remuneration for all C-suite executives and Boards,” Pro Bono Australia Founder Karen Mahlab said.

“The Not for Profit sector is characterised by its diversity, and so we have drilled down once again into sectors within sectors revealing distinct variations between, for example, the Research/Medical research sectors and the Human rights sector as well as presenting the research sorted by location, job title and organisational size and turnover.

“Our particular thanks to Andrew Beveridge of Beveridge Consulting for his deep and intelligent analysis of the figures backed by his extensive experience in remuneration. Our many thanks too to HLB Mann Judd for their timely and robust support of the research.”

The salary survey can be purchased online at

The complete survey costs $179 or sections can be purchased for $85.

Pro Bono Australia hosting a FREE Webinar on Wednesday April 8 on Not for Profit remuneration – your guide to benchmarking and determining salaries. Andrew Beveridge will provide practical guidance in selecting appropriate benchmarks and building a remuneration framework for your Not for Profit organisation. Register now!

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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One comment

  • Beverley says:

    Please tell me this is in US dollars? But alas it's not. Because if I'm earning the same, as a simple IT contractor in Australia, as would a CEO for an NFP in our country then this is tragic. Anyone with that level of passion, responsibility and care deserves to earn more…Full Stop…. male or female.

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