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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Gender Pay Gap 'To Last 98 Years'

Women face a wait of almost 100 years for equal pay, according to a new study which shows female executives earn £10,000 less than their male counterparts. Channel 4 News looks at why.

Men doing the same jobs as women at executive level are paid £10,546 more on average, the survey found.

Men took home on average £42,441, while women only made £31,895, according to the study by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). It means the average male executive earns 25 per cent more than his female equivalent.

It remains a significant gap, but the CMI said it is narrowing, with salaries for women increasing 0.3 per cent faster than men. If this continues at the current rate it will be 2109 - 98 years - before the gap is closed.

There was some good news for women in the survey of 35,000 executives, with junior female executives bucking the trend to earn the same as their male counterparts. The CMI said this was a sign men and women now grow up on a "more equal footing".

Its director of policy and research, Petra Wilton, told Channel 4 News: "Our hope is that this trend for both equal pay and equal representation follows this younger generation of female executives right through their careers as they climb through levels of seniority."

Unequal workplaces

However she said that the figures still showed that the workplace remains an unequal place.

The CMI figures back up the World Economic Forum's data for 2010, which found that the UK was 60th in the world in terms of gender pay equality - 17 places below Ireland, but above France, which was 127th. Lesotho and Macedonia were the top two most equal countries in terms of pay.
Why should a woman take on a director-level position when the likelihood is still that she will be paid less than the man sitting next to her at the boardroom table? Sandra Pollock, CMI

Ms Wilton said: "This year's salary survey demonstrates, yet again, that businesses are contributing to the persistent gender pay gap and alienating top female employees by continuing to pay men and women unequally.

"This kind of bad management is damaging UK businesses and must be addressed."

Sandra Pollock, national chair of the CMI's Women in Management network, added: "Why should a woman take on the responsibilities of a director-level position when the likelihood is still that she will be paid significantly less than the man sitting next to her at the boardroom table?

"Too often managers are male and aged 45 plus and we are fighting an ongoing war to ensure that professions attract people based on their talent and not their age or gender."

The research found that redundancy hit men and women across age groups equally in the last year. However the figures showed women at more senior levels were almost twice as likely to have been made redundant than men - and five times as many female company directors as male directors lost their jobs over the last year.

Christina Ioannidis experienced gender discrimination before setting up her own business, Aquitude, which helps organisations like Accenture and Barclays Bank retain their top female talent.

She told Channel 4 News: "My role was made redundant - about two months before a man had been brought in to be my manager. He stayed in the business even though I had been there a while.

"It threw me. I didn't make too much of it at the time but as I left I realised it actually happens again and again that women are on the receiving end of unfair treatment."

She said businesses need to realise the value of talented female executives - and customers. A Government report in February called for companies to aim for one in four of its board members to be women by 2015.

Why are women paid less?

The CMI urged the Government to demand more transparency on pay from companies rather than imposing mandatory quotas. Firms found guilty of fuelling the gender pay gap should be publicly exposed, the organisation said. The CMI itself offers help to women to challenge unequal pay.

And it said that as society gets more equal across the board, pay should follow. "Where representation is equal, it's easier for women to be treated, and to demand to be treated, equally," Petra Wilton told Channel 4 News.

One of the other factors often cited as a reason why women earn less than men is because women often take time out to have children. Some women never return to the corporate world ,while others take a few years before going back.

CMI said "the onus is on the Government" to change this culture.

"Until paternity laws are overhauled so they fit the modern workforce and flexible working is more widely accommodated, women will continue to have to make choices once they start families which will reduce their numbers at more senior levels," said Ms Wilton.

"The onus is on the Government and employers to ensure they start to implement the changes that mean the pay gap stays shut at junior levels and closes up at other levels of seniority."

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