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Mind the (gender pay) gap!

Mind the (gender pay) gap!

A number of newspapers are currently reporting that female managers are effectively working around 57 days unpaid a year in comparison to male managers as a result of the gender pay gap. This calculation is according to the recently published 2015 National Management Salary Survey which compared the salaries of over 72,000 UK managers.

The 22% pay gap is a marginal improvement on 2014’s survey result of 23%, but ultimately reinforces that the UK has a long way to go in achieving equal between men and women with similar job titles. The gap was reported as being widest at the highest positions - at senior/ director level, the average pay for men is £138,699 whereas women earn on average £123,756. The reasons for this difference have been widely disputed.  Kate Andrews from the Adam Smith Institute argues that the ‘alleged gap… is actually indicative of personal lifestyle decisions, not employer discrimination.’ In contrast, Roberta Liebenberg, former chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women, argues that this is mainly due to “inherent unconscious biases” at work, and therefore that discrimination is still the cause behind the gap.

The survey comes after David Cameron last month discussed his aim to eliminate the gap ‘within a generation’ and to legally enforce the publication of salaries by organisations that employ more than 250 people. Under the current voluntary approach, fewer than 10 organisations actually publish something close to what Cameron is encouraging. This will hopefully be able to make an impact upon the by putting pressure on organisations to tackle the issue, as they worry about the negative effect that such transparency could have on their reputation and businesses.

Cameron should perhaps also be focusing on encouraging organisations to employ a larger number of women at higher levels as opposed to solely focusing on the issue of pay. After all, the survey did also find that whilst women outnumber men in junior management positions, they are still overshadowed in positions higher than this. This will obviously have had an impact upon the survey’s findings, as it is natural for junior management positions to earn a lower amount, which will have contributed to the survey’s ‘average female management salary’. Working towards ensuring that women also have higher management positions would be very likely to affect the statistics and it is possible that recent changes affecting the provision of parental leave (and the way some companies are implementing these) may slowly change corporate culture in a way to facilitate this outcome.