Mind the Pay Gap

CMI received over 550 pieces of media coverage this month as it released figures revealing that female executives are earning as much as their male counterparts for the first time since our records began 38 years ago – but only at junior executive level. Earning an average salary of £21,969, female junior executives in the UK are currently being paid marginally more (£602) than their male counterparts.


The Guardian, the FT, The Economist, The Independent and the BBC, amongst others, all highlighted the fact that the average figures across the whole sample of 34,158 UK executives suggest equal pay for male and female executives across all seniority levels remains a long way off. According to the 2011 National Management Salary Survey, men continue to be paid more on average than women doing the same jobs (£42,441 compared to £31,895), revealing a gender pay gap of £10,546. The persistent gap means that, despite the fact that salaries for female executives as a whole are currently increasing faster than those of their male counterparts (2.4 per cent compared to 2.1 per cent), if male and female salaries continued to increase at current rates it would still be 2109 – 98 years – before the average salary for female executives catches up with that of their male peers.


Responding to the report, CMI’s Director of Policy and Research, Petra Wilton, says: “While CMI is delighted that junior female executives have caught up with males at the same level, this year’s Salary Survey demonstrates, yet again, that businesses are contributing to the persistent gender pay gap and alienating top female employees by continuing to pay men and women unequally. This kind of bad management is damaging UK businesses and must be addressed.”

The Home Office issued the following statement in response to the findings: “The gender pay gap between male and female senior executives is completely unacceptable. While progress at junior level is welcome, it’s clear much more must be done. That’s why the Government has taken clear action to promote equal pay. We’ve changed the law to allow men and women to talk about their pay so they can find out if they are being paid unfairly and we’re working with CBI, TUC and others to develop a framework for gender equality reporting.”


While CMI has backed Government proposals to increase transparency about pay and enable tribunals to order pay audits of firms found guilty of fuelling the pay gap, we have opposed the introduction of mandatory quotas for women in the boardroom, calling instead for companies to build on the successes so far achieved by a voluntary approach.