· Gender pay gap among managers on rise again
· Number of senior women quitting also on increase
The gender pay gap among managers across Britain has widened for the first time in 11 years as women, from trainees to chief executives, have failed to keep pace with the rise in male earnings, the Chartered Management Institute disclosed yesterday.
In a survey of more than 42,000 managers in every sector, it found women averaged £43,571 last year, while the men averaged £49,647.
The gap had been shrinking, from 13.6% of earnings in 2003 to 11.8% in 2005, as more women have broken through the glass ceiling blocking career progression. But last year it widened to 12.2% among managers of all grades – and at director level the gulf was even more pronounced, increasing from 20% to 23%.
The institute said this departure from the trend was worrying. And the Equal Opportunities Commission said: “It is alarming to hear that for this section of the workforce the gender pay gap is actually getting worse.”
The biggest bastion of inequality was in the food and drink industry, where male managers earned 46% more than their female counterparts, closely followed by people working in pensions and insurance, where the gap was 43.2%. In human resources – the managers who are supposed to enforce the equal pay legislation – the gap between men and women was 40; and in retailing it was 33.9%.
The most equal sectors were IT, where the gap was 11.7%, the public sector and charities, where it was only 0.7%.
The survey found that more than a third of Britain’s managers are women and they are climbing up the corporate ladder faster than their male colleagues.
The average female team leader is 37, five years younger than her male counterpart. The average female department head is 40, three years younger than her male equivalent. And the average female director is 44, four years younger than the boardroom males.
Women managers were also more likely to be awarded a performance bonus. Last year 63.4% of the women got a one-off payment, compared with 55.9% of men.
Yet their average overall earnings lagged £6,076 behind the men’s and there were indications that more women were responding by quitting their jobs, in many cases to set up their own businesses outside the discriminatory world of paid employment.
Last year 7.8% of female managers handed in resignations, compared with 6.4% of male colleagues. It was the highest female resignation rate since 2002.
Jo Causon, the institute’s marketing director, said: “It is clear the pull of promotion is not being matched by parity in pay. Despite the weight of legislation and the reality that reward should match responsibility, gender bias seems to be getting worse, not better.”
The widening earnings gap might be partly due to a relatively high proportion of women managers in the public sector, where pay increases were lower last year after a period of substantial growth. But Ms Causon said employers should be worried that the earnings gap was more than £6,000 and rising. They were struggling to recruit and retain good managers and increasing gender inequality was not the answer.
The survey also found women wanted more opportunities for training and career development, a better working environment and flexible working, she said.
Val Lawson, chair of the Women in Management Network, said: “The fact that the proportion of women in senior positions continues to grow is encouraging, but their increasing likelihood to resign is a cause for concern. If employers allow this trend to continue the knowledge gap in UK organisations will be exacerbated at the very time we are trying to challenge the skills crisis.”
Jenny Watson, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said the evidence of a widening pay gap was alarming and underlined the need for updating anti-discrimination legislation.
The Department for Communities and Local Government ended consultation yesterday on a “single equality bill” that the government is expected to publish in draft form next year. Ms Watson said: “The Equal Pay Act has been in place for more than 30 years and is now in serious need of modernisation. The EOC is calling for employers to tackle systemic pay inequality effectively.”
Jenny Westaway, project manager of the Fawcett Society, said this “worrying evidence” highlighted the need for the government to act to “stop women being short changed thousands of pounds a year”. Last week a Guardian survey of Britain’s top 100 companies found only two had female chief executives last year and their pay lagged well behind the male average.
Source: Guardian UK