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Equal Pay? Wait Another 57 Years

August 19 2010 - 40 years after the 1970 Equal Pay Act, male and female salaries are converging so slowly in the UK that it will take more than another five decades to reach equality, according to a report from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and XpertHR.

While female managers' salaries rose by 2.8 per cent over the last 12 months, compared to 2.3 per cent for their male counterparts, the average male manager earns £10,071 more. At the current rate of increase, women managers will have to wait 57 years before their take-home pay is equal to that of male colleagues.

The 2010 National Management Salary Survey collected data from 43,312 individuals in 197 organisations and showed that male salaries outstripped female earnings by as much as 24% at senior levels. At the most junior level, male executives still averaged £1,065 more than female executives.

Regionally, average differentials were lowest in North-East England (£8,955) and highest in the English Midlands (£10,434). IT and pharmaceuticals were the most unequal industrial sectors with average pay gaps of £17,736 and £14,018 respectively.

Petra Wilton, CMI’s Head of Policy 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 report also revealed significant differences between turnover rates for males and females in the study. 4.5 per cent of women were made redundant in the last year compared to just three per cent of men. The considerable rise in voluntaty resignations was linked to the difficult economic circumstances combined with unsatisfactory remuneration. At director level 7.7 per cent of female directors voluntarily left their posts in the last twelve months compared with 5.3 per cent the previous year. Only 3.6 per cent of male directors resigned.

The CMI established its Women in Management (WiM) network forty years ago, aimed at supporting female executives and encouraging them to work for directorships. Sandra Pollock, Chair of Women in Management commented:

"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."

International law firm Eversheds is one firm that has attempted to improve women's opportunities. 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."

CMI has launched an Ambitious Women toolkit at www.managers.org.uk/glassceiling together with an ‘Ask the Expert’ service for specific questions relating to equality and diversity. The toolkit contains practical advice for women on issues such as:

  • how to ask for a pay rise and challenge unequal pay
  • skills development, and
  • returning to work after maternity leave

Employers are offered advice on how to provide better support to women workers and cultivate female talent.

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