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Many of the world’s most powerful women work in the philanthropy and non-profit sector, with a large proportion of the Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women list represented by this sector. However, from 2016 to 2017, seven high-profile women in philanthropic roles were dropped from the list after stepping down from their posts, and all but one of these positions were filled by men. There were several reasons for these women leaving their roles; some simply came to the end of their term, while some reached an age where retirement or transition to an easier role became an option.

Andrea Pactor spoke for the Women’s Philanthropy Institute on the topic, stating that many women are just tired as they do so much, both professionally and at home. Women such as Joey Horn give regularly to philanthropic causes and support a variety of charities both financially and practically. For some of the women at the top, however, philanthropy is yet another area where the gender pay gap and lack of diversity makes it difficult to make a difference as a female. In the infographic attachment you can view some more information about the gender divide at senior level across philanthropic and non-profit organisations.

Women Denied Leadership Roles

In philanthropic and non-profit organisations, women outweigh men as employees by three to one, yet less than half of the CEOs are female, and this percentage gets lower the bigger the budget of the organisation. Less than a third of charitable groups operating with a budget of over $10 million have a woman or women at the head.

On top of this, women who do reach the top often find that their financial remuneration is significantly less than that of their male counterparts, according to figures from the Non-Profit Compensation Report from GuideStar in 2017. This is despite that fact that a recent study by Catalyst has proven that corporations with the highest female representation at the top level consistently outperform those with the lowest representation in financial terms. You can read more about the Catalyst report in the embedded PDF.

Andrea Pactor stated that diversity and the gender pay gap, far from improving, could actually get worse. The Millennial generation of women, says Pactor, are more entrepreneurial and more concerned with how much difference they can make, rather than job titles and salaries.

Driving Positive Change

Although they are being denied the lion’s share of leadership roles, women are increasingly driving positive change across the world in countless ways. A study from Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy found that, despite still earning less than men for performing the same roles, women are more likely than men to give to charity across almost every charitable sub-sector. Women are also more likely to donate their time than men through volunteering with charitable organisations. Women leaders are driving that positive change in communities everywhere, giving time and funding to a diverse array of projects for social benefit.

Women leaders for the organisation United Way Worldwide, for example, are spearheading projects ranging from teaching leadership skills to running literacy programmes, achieving change that would have previously been thought impossible. More than a billion dollars has been raised by female leaders at United Way since 2002, going towards helping people in need across multiple countries in more than 160 communities.

Giving circles are becoming an increasingly popular way for women and people of minority ethnic backgrounds or marginalised groups to wield more power with their giving. You can learn more about giving circles by watching the short video attachment.