The Guardian, Thursday 19 August 2010
An equal part of the job but not an equal pay packet. Photograph: Ryanstock/Taxi/Getty
Working women who thought they might live to see Britain’s pay gap finally close will have to hold out another 57 years, according to research published today.
Forty years after the Equal Pay Act was passed, the study shows that the gender pay gap remains stubborn and that male and female managers will not be paid the same until 2067.
Women have also been harder hit by the recession, with more female workers than men being made redundant in the past 12 months, the research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) shows.
The findings will intensify calls from campaigners for the new government to do more to ensure equal pay in the UK, which has one of the biggest gender salary gaps in Europe.
“Girls born this year will face the probability of working for around 40 years in the shadow of unequal pay,” said CMI’s head of policy, Petra Wilton.
“The prospect of continued decades of pay inequality cannot be allowed to become reality. We want to see the government take greater steps to enforce pay equality by monitoring organisations more closely and naming and shaming those who fail to pay male and female staff fairly.”
The group’s survey shows that women’s salaries increased by 2.8% over the past 12 months, compared with 2.3% for men. But with the average UK salary for a male manager currently £10,031 more than that of a female manager, women face a 57-year wait before their take-home pay is equal to that of their male colleagues, says the report, compiled with researchers XpertHR. Its findings, from more than 43,000 employees in 197 organisations, showed male pay still outstrips female pay by as much as 24% at senior level.
At junior level the gap also persists, with male junior executives receiving £1,065 more than female executives.
Despite four decades of equal pay legislation, Britain has one of the worst gender gaps in Europe. Women in the UK are paid 79% of male rates, while across the 27 countries of the European Union the figure is 82%, according to a report earlier this year from Eurobarometer.
Gender equality groups such as the Fawcett Society blame the UK’s poor record on a culture of secrecy around pay. They point to examples such as Sweden, where more transparency has resulted in falling pay gaps. They want the coalition government to set a deadline for closing the gap, make laws more transparent, and force companies to audit their workforces for unfair gaps more regularly.
For women unhappy to sit out the 57-year wait, the CMI report highlighted some of the better-performing sectors and regions of the UK, as well as the worst.
Women in the Midlands fare the worst, taking home £10,434 less than men, while those in the north-east fare the best, where the gap is smallest at £8,955.
Different sectors also varied greatly and women hoping for equal pay were advised to think twice about jobs in IT or the pharmaceutical industry, where the gaps were the largest, at £17,736 and £14,018 respectively.
The report suggests that stark differences in pay are seeing some women leave the workplace. It notes a dramatic increase in resignations, particularly at director level, where 7.7% of female directors voluntarily left their posts in the last year, compared with just 3.6% of men.
Women were also more likely to be made redundant. Over the year, 4.5% of the female workforce lost their jobs compared with 3% of men.
CMI has launched an “ambitious women toolkit” with practical advice on asking for pay rises, how to challenge unequal pay, and tips on returning to work from maternity leave.
• This article was amended on 19 August 2010. The original headline said, “Equal pay for women not likely till 2057, says research”, which has been corrected.