Female managers aren't 'working for free' - but they are missing out on promotions

Women in management are paid 22% less on average than their male counterparts. Not cool.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 08 Feb 2016

Another day, another reminder the battle for gender equality in the workplace is far from won. Female managers can expect to earn 22% less than men, or 27% if they work in a company that employs 250-999 people. And the problem only gets worse the older and further up the ladder people get.

The average gender pay gap for full-time managers across all grades is £8,524, according to a survey of 72,000 UK managers by the Chartered Management Institute and XpertHR. That’s a slight improvement on the £9,069 gulf in 2014, but still means women are ‘working for free’ for 1 hour 40 minutes a day, the CMI said.

Of course it’s more complicated than that. The pay gap is largely reflective of the fact that the further up the ladder and pay scale you go, the fewer women there are. For example, women hold only 29% of director-level positions.

That’s backed up by the fact older women earn proportionally less too. Female managers aged 26-35 earn 6% less than men, a gap that widens to 20% for 36-35 year-olds (i.e. as many start getting penalised for taking time off to have children) and 38% by the time they reach their 60s.

That’s pretty gaping, especially considering the national full-time gender pay gap is 9.4%, according to the Office for National Statistics. Nonetheless, female managers aren’t actually working for nothing for 57 days a year – just not getting promoted as much.

Having said that, the pay gap does widens when women are more senior too. Male senior managers or directors earn almost £139,000 on average, almost £15,000 more than their female counterparts.

But that may still be down to more men taking the very top, best-paid positions. Just 9.5% of FTSE 100 executive directors are women, compared to 25% of all directors – hence why the government-backed Davies Review is now focusing on the executive ‘pipeline’ rather than just female FTSE directors.

This survey comes hot on the heels of the government announcing it would force companies with at least 250 staff to publish their gender pay gap and a day after Deloitte released its own (17.8%). The former was hailed by CMI chief executive Ann Francke, who said, ‘Transparency is a powerful driver for closing the gender pay gap.’

Nonetheless, as pointed out above, companies and policy makers have to remember that pay is largely a proxy for seniority. And that there isn’t a single ‘glass ceiling’ blocking women’s way, but numerous barriers that hold them back and mean many actually don’t want to progress in companies that don’t cater to their needs.

Finally, it bears repeating that women aren’t the only group discriminated against in business and society more broadly. As Sophie Chandauka, the co-founder of the Black British Business Awards tweeted yesterday:

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