CMI warns Women and Equalities Select Committee on the ‘glass pyramid’

Female managers over 40 suffer a 35% pay gap according to CMI

15 December 2015

The pay gap for women in management roles over the age of 40 stands at 35%, more than 10% higher than the average, according to research shared today by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) at the Women and Equalities Select Committee.          

In her submission of evidence to the committee, expert witness Ann Francke, chief executive of CMI, warned that there was little in the professional body’s data to suggest this pay gap will disappear anytime soon. If anything, female managers over the age of 40 today face a bigger gender pay gap than a decade ago.

Commenting on the findings Ann Francke said:

Anyone who believes hitting the Davies’ targets abolished the glass ceiling is misguided. Equality and fair progression means much more than having the same number of men and women on your board. Female managers face what I believe is more of a ‘glass pyramid’ than a ceiling. The walls close in with every step up, and you’re likely to slip down the pecking order when it comes to pay.”

Tackling the gender pay gap will require a root and branch transformation of business culture to address unconscious bias. Female managers at all levels face not only the traditional discrimination from ‘old-boy’s networks’ but also a more pervasive and potentially more damaging unconscious discrimination. Mothers returning to the work-place are often shepherded into part-time or less challenging roles to fit in with child-care from well-meaning but misguided managers.

Francke adds:

Managers at every level should be accountable on equality, with transparency around hiring, pay and progression the effective solution. They are not doing anyone a favour by offering softer roles for mothers. Capability must not be judged on time served; it is simply a question of whether you’re up to the job. If you are, you must be paid the going rate. Anything else is simply discrimination.”

In its submission CMI highlights that the most powerful levers with which to achieve change are transparency and training. CMI believes that on the basis of the slow rate of change that the voluntary approach championed by government has proven insufficient. Clear reporting of pay gaps at junior, middle and senior management positions would improve accountability and provide clear company wide-targets that can be backed by senior leadership.

Data from the latest National Management Salary Survey (NMSS) by CMI and XpertHR reveals that women working in full-time management and professional roles earn 22% less on average than men. This equates to 57 days each year of unpaid work. The extensive survey, of 72,000 UK managers, shows that the gender pay gap now stands at £8,524, with women earning on average £30,612 and men earning £39,136.  The gap rises to £14,943 for director- level women, who earn on average £123,756 compared to their male counterparts who earn £138,699.

Women managers are also missing out across all levels when it comes to bonuses, with the average man’s bonus of £4,898 almost twice that of the average woman’s bonus of £2,531.  The impact of age on these figures is significant. At entry level there is no perceptible pay gap, however this increases significantly by age:  for 26-35 year-olds the gap is 6%; for those aged 36-45 years, it is 20%; from 46 to 60 years it is 35%; and for those aged 60 and above it is 38%.


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Notes to editors

About CMI

  • The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is the only chartered professional body for management and leadership, dedicated to improving managers’ skills and growing the number of qualified managers.


  • Our professional management qualifications span GCSE to PhD equivalent levels, including the unique Chartered Manager award, which increases earnings potential and improves workplace performance.
  • We provide employers and individual managers with access to the latest management thinking and with practical online support which helps them embrace change, create high performing teams and keep ahead of the curve.
  • With a member community of 120,000+ managers and leaders, we promote high standards of ethical practice through our Professional Code of Conduct, and help managers build their expertise through online networks, regional events and mentoring opportunities.


CMI (2015) ‘Gender Salary Survey