I’ve learned from bitter experience from putting together judging panels for various magazine awards that there’s never an ideal panel. Choose lots of sector heavyweights and you’ll probably face accusations of the panel being too male, pale and stale; choose lots of less well-known faces and you’ll be accused of the panel lacking the necessary gravitas.
No matter who you choose, normally someone will pick fault.
But I have to admit that I was taken aback by the make up of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ Executive Pay Inquiry group, which will explore appropriate levels of pay for charity senior executives.
The 17-strong panel includes a Lord, two Knights, and a host of individuals one would assume from their job titles either earn or have earned six-figure salaries. In fairness to the NCVO and the group, there are also a number of chairs of charities of varying sizes represented who may have never earned such high amounts.
But equally I was left wondering: where are the Dorothy Donors and Joe Averages? It was they after all who wrote to charities and newspapers in their droves to criticise levels of pay. And what of the high-profile critics such as Charlie Elphicke MP and philanthropist Gina Miller – should they at least have a place around the table to provide a dissenting voice?
A few obviously younger faces, such as chair the British Youth Council or the president of the National Union of Students, may well offer some different viewpoints.
A spokeswoman for NCVO assures me that the panel holds a diverse range of views, pointing out that Lord Phillips of Sudbury, the chancellor of University of Essex, has previously been critical of high pay, and John Stewart, chair of both Guide Dogs and Legal & General, has challenged remuneration packages offered in the private sector. The group will also hear lots of evidence from critics of charity high pay as part of its inquiry.
I do wonder, though, whether the group’s composition will be used as yet another stick with which to beat the sector and how seriously its conclusions will be taken. Perhaps there should be a few late additions.