Equal pay for women still 57 years away
New figures detailing the rates at which male and female salaries are increasing show that UK businesses are still more than five decades away from paying men and women equally
However, with the average UK salary for a male manager currently £10,071 more than that of a female manager, women face a 57 year wait before their take-home pay is equal to that of their male colleagues. Although this year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Equal Pay Act, data collected from 43,312 individuals in 197 organisations reveals that male pay outstrips female pay by as much as 24% at senior level.
Even at junior level the gap still persists with male junior executives receiving £1,065 more than female executives. Across the regions, women in the Midlands fare the worst, taking home £10,434 less while those in the North East fare the best, where the gap is smallest at £8,955. Looking at different industry sectors, female executives would do well to bear in mind when accepting roles in either IT or the pharmaceutical industry that the pay gaps here are higher than any other sectors, at £17,736 and £14,018 respectively.
As well as stark differences in pay, the research also reveals a contrast between male and female labour turnover rates, particularly with regard to redundancy. Over the last 12 months, 4.5 per cent of the female workforce experienced redundancy, compared to just three per cent of men. The difficult economic circumstances combined with unsatisfactory remuneration may have contributed to a dramatic increase in resignations, particularly at director level where 7.7 per cent of female directors voluntarily left their posts in the last year, compared to just 3.6 per cent of men. Female resignations at director level are up from 5.3 per cent the previous year.
Responding to the report, CMI’s Head of Policy, Petra Wilton, said: “Girls born this year will face the probability of working for around 40 years in the shadow of unequal pay. The prospect of continued decades of pay inequality cannot be allowed to become reality. We want to see Government take greater steps to enforce pay equality by monitoring organisations more closely and naming and shaming those who fail to pay male and female staff fairly.
“It’s not just Government that needs to act. Competitive businesses need to attract diverse workforces and appeal to the most talented employees. To do this, managers and employers need to recruit from a wide talent pool but they cannot expect to attract the UK’s best female talent if they continue to undervalue it.”
The gloomy findings come as CMI’s Women in Management (WiM) network – established with the aim of supporting female executives and encouraging women to aspire to take director-level roles – celebrates its 40th anniversary.
WiM’s Chair, Sandra Pollock, said: “Four decades have passed since the Equal Pay Act became law, when the pay gap stood at 34 per cent across the board. In many ways things have progressed, but the fact that such a significant gap still exists means the UK still has some way to go. We want to inspire young women to reach the top but how can we possibly expect them to want the top jobs if, despite doing the same role as male colleagues, they will be paid less? I sincerely hope that with the combined efforts of UK employers and the Government, plus the efforts of organisations like ours that work to support women in their careers, the pay gap can be consigned to history, long before WiM celebrates another milestone anniversary.”
To help female staff challenge inequality in their own workplaces and further their careers, CMI has launched the Ambitious Women toolkit, available at www.managers.org.uk/glassceiling, and an ‘Ask the Expert’ service for specific questions relating to equality and diversity. The toolkit contains practical advice for women on issues including how to ask for a pay rise and challenge unequal pay, skills development and returning to work after maternity leave. There is also information to help employers offer better support to women workers and cultivate female talent.
One UK employer that has taken steps to do just that is international law firm Eversheds. Caroline Wilson, Eversheds’ Head of Diversity and CSR said: “Our lifestyle policy, which places emphasis on flexible working, is just one of the ways that we support our colleagues, including mothers and carers; helping them to balance their commitments whilst continuing to deliver the best possible service for our global clients. Traditionally, it would have been seen as a big deal for a partner to leave the office at 5pm, but due to our remote working options, we’ve found ways to help our colleagues continue to be client-centred, whatever their circumstances.
“Lifestyle policies like these are helping to make the legal profession an attractive choice for women. More than 20 per cent of senior managers within the legal sector are women. How many professions can say that? For our colleagues within the legal profession, time is a precious commodity so we will always look to do more to help them.”