Calling It Like It Is On The Gender Pay Gap In UK Business
The gender pay gap in business does not exist simply because most women are in less intellectually demanding jobs and most men are strategically essential to the workings of the office of the CEO. It exists because of fundamental inequality on multiple levels - what we value, how we value it in both societal as well as monetary terms, and how we spot, reward, and bring on talent. Or so it is often argued. There is an alternative view: it exists because businesses get away with it.
In the UK, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has made it its business to highlight the truth about the gender pay gap. Discrepancies exploded into public with the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report 2017, which showed that the UK stands in 53rd position for equal pay for equal work. 'Damning' is a word that comes to mind.
According to analysis of UK managers' salaries conducted by the CMI, the gender pay gap stands at 26.8%, with male managers on average out-earning female peers by £11.606 a year. This includes salary and bonuses, as well as perks such as car allowances and commission.
The CMI concedes that women are far more likely to fill more junior management positions than men (66% v 34%), and 74% of director-level roles are occupied by men.
But while too many businesses are like 'glass pyramids' with women holding the majority of lower-paid junior roles and far fewer reaching the top, "We now see those extra perks of senior management roles are creating a gender pay gap wider than previously understood" said Anne Francke, CEO at CMI.
Even for those women who do progress to more senior roles, the pay gap at director-level positions rises to £34,144. That is reflected in men earning an average of £175.673 and women £141,529.
I would call it a 'Diminished Awards For Daring' status.
On top of this, bonus payments arrive as the suspect unequal icing on an unequal cake. The gender bonus gap across all managers stands at 46.9%, says CMI. This increases considerably at C-suite level- where the average bonus for a male CEO is £89,230, compared to £14,945 for a woman.
Really ? That's an 83% bonus pay gap. Why on earth do women in the UK put up with it ?
In part, I suspect, because the argument for unequal pay has long been derailed by some 'aside' truths - all relevant as social observation, but not adding up to a whole when it comes to the reasons for setting pay, oblivious of gender.
Some terrific reflections on women, work and pay are offered by the US cartoonist Barry Deutsch, who - thank you Twitter - has allowed me to mention his work both there and here, with another example below.
But, despite the cleverness of the cartoon, there's a danger here. Because there's a gap between the satire which is too close to truth for comfort, and the reality of the business gap in wages - which in truth has nothing to do with gender roles outside of profession.
The CMI figures reveal that when it comes to salary and bonuses, the benefits keep going disproportionately to men, competing with women in a professional role. It has nothing to do with everything else that women may or may not do in the context of a family role. It's just that as members of society, we look there at once to define professional women in the 'whole': something we do not do when it comes to successful professional men.
It sounds like an old-fashioned bit of vinyl stuck in play. But as recent events in the UK have shown, change can come fast and sudden when the taboos are broken, and the questions asked on what is acceptable as the norm.
Despite the UK Government's gender pay gap reporting regulations, less than 1% of companies have so far bothered to report on the gender pay gap. That, in itself, speaks volumes.