For 19 years, until 2001, Steven was the Trust Secretary of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. Before then, he worked as a teacher; in the non-profit sector; in local government; and as a consumer advocate in the National Health Service. From 2001 to 2011, he worked as an independent consultant, mainly with grant making trusts and human rights NGOs.
Steven has written and lectured widely in the UK and internationally on issues relating to philanthropy. He has served on various boards, including the Community Fund (now part of the Big Lottery Fund), and the board for the Legal Complaints Service.
He founded and chairs the Rowntree Society, which seeks to ensure that a new generation understands the contemporary significance of the work and ideas of the Rowntree family. He is a trustee of Jessie's Fund, a small York-based charity working nationally to help children who are ill or disabled to communicate through music, and of the Economics, Law, management, Politics, Sociology (ELMPS) ethics committee of the University of York.