Women less equal on pay - but more equal on redundancy

The CMI suggests that while the gender pay gap has widened slightly, women have at least taken a step toward equality when it comes job losses.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 19 Sep 2012
It’s been a long, hard slog for women to catch up with their male counterparts, salary-wise – but a new survey from the Chartered Institute of Management suggests that we’ve taken a (tentative) step closer to parity. Apparently, women at junior executive level now earn an average of £21,969 – that’s £602 a year more than their male counterparts. Good news, non? The only slight downside is that salary growth on the whole has slipped, from 2.3% for men and 2.8% for women in 2010, to 2.1% and 2.4% respectively this year. Less good news. Although an optimist would point out that at least the gap has narrowed…

Nevertheless: according to the National Management Salary Survey of 34,000 managers, women’s salaries are still way behind men’s, with the average female manager’s salary still being £10,546 behind men’s. What’s worrying is that that’s slightly higher than the £10,031 gap reported last year. And the CMI added that if male and female salaries continue to increase at their current rates, it’ll take 98 years before women and men earn the same. Mind you, if inflation continues to increase at the same rate, by then our annual salaries will just about stretch to buy a loaf of bread…

MT isn’t sure whether it should celebrate or commiserate that when it comes to redundancy, at least, we’re on an even footing: in the year to February, 2.2% of both genders lost their jobs (that’s down from 3% of men and 4.5% of women – so we’ve all got something to be pleased about). If you take a closer look, though, things aren’t as encouraging: at ‘function’ (aka departmental) head level, almost twice the number of women as men were made redundant, while nearly five times as many female as male directors lost their jobs. Which isn’t good. Women seem to be more likely to quit their jobs, too: 4.2% of women resigned last year, compared to 3.6% of men.

So what’s the solution? The CMI is making no bones about the fact that it doesn’t think boardroom quotas are the answer. ‘Imposing mandatory quotas and forcing organisations to reveal salaries is not the solution. We need the Government to scrutinise organisational pay, demand more transparency from companies on pay bandings and publicly expose organisations found guilty of fuelling the gender pay gap,’ said Petra Wilton, the organisation’s director of policy and research. Which strikes us as adopting a stick, rather than a carrot approach. These figures suggest the Government’s strategy of a bit gentle encouragement isn’t working. Perhaps it’s time to get tougher…

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