Thursday, 1 May 2014

Male - Female Pay Differential

Jane gives her thoughts on the debate over the Male - Female Pay Differential.

"The statistics clearly show that if you’re a woman and lucky enough to have reached a senior management position the likelihood is that you will be earning in the region of 15K less than your male counterpart.  In fact CMI (Chartered Management Institute) statistics suggest that as a female executive on a similar leadership career path to a man you could expect to earn approximately 425K less over the lifespan of your career. That is the best part of half a million pounds or nearly a million dollars!

In the UK we have had Sex Discrimination Law since 1975 (Sex Discrimination Act), which has now been superseded by the Equality Act 2010.  In spite of this and reports such as the Lord Davies report looking at women on boards, there is still a discernible difference in the earning potential of men and women.

So my question is, is it time that the UK, take a leaf out of some of the Nordic countries books and, have reserved positions for women in management roles?  Controversial I know, but is that the answer?  The Lord Davies report and subsequent reviews show that the UK is making steps towards reducing this wage gap but I have seen reports where the improvement is said to be going at a ‘glacial speed’ so hardly rapid.  Wouldn’t reserving spaces for competent women on boards and senior management positions simply become the short cut required to get the job done?  When, the only alternative is, to wait for male dominated organisations, to wake up to the potential that they are missing out on by not employing women.  Then, getting these same organisations to rectify the disservice they do to women by not paying them what they are worth when the finally do give them a job?

 I am of two minds about this. I feel that any position gained should be earned and that no-one should expect a handout or a short-cut to the top. However, is this being incredibly naive?  The facts tell us that in spite of legislation we are not all competing on a level playing field.  The field is heavily weighted in favour of men and that is even with female numbers outstripping men in areas such as education results and gained university places.  However, as soon as we leave education the bias begins.  Well not totally, as junior female managers in some areas are being paid slightly higher wages than men.  However, that very small tide takes a swift turn the higher up the management pole you climb.

The CMI ‘Women in Leadership’ report suggested that 57% of people surveyed were not in favour of legal quotas.  Although this is a majority, the majority is not huge.  The CMI also came out against the use of legal quotas for leadership positions stating “...women should be in the boardroom on merit, not on the basis of legal requirement...”  I have to say that I agree but if women are at a disadvantage how do we address that situation if laws and naming and shaming have not worked?

I guess this is another case of watch this space - what interesting and also troubling times we live in!"

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