PAY AND REWARDS

It's an uncomfortable truth, but women bosses aren't immune to the gender pay gap

News by CMI, 08 JAN 2018

Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute - 4 January 2018 • 3:07PM

First published by The Telegraph

At Easyjet, CEO Carolyn McCall presided over a 45 per cent pay gap CREDIT: LEON NEAL /AFP

Should dames be damned for not having equal pay in their own organisations? This sentiment seems to lurk behind today’s headlines about Vivian Hunt. The 50-year-old, who was made a dame in the new years honours for services to women in business, is the UK boss of management consultancy McKinsey & Company - which has been found to have an average pay gap of 24 per cent.

It brings home to us all a stark truth: the pay gap is far too ingrained and systemic an issue to make female run companies immune.

Indeed, Dame Carolyn McCall’s former company, easyJet, reported the highest pay gap of any FTSE 100 company at 45 per cent. While Jayne-Anne Gadhia CBE, CEO of Virgin Money and champion of gender equality in financial services, presides over a pay gap of 38.4 per cent. And so it goes.

The transparency required by the UK government for companies of 250 employees and over - for which the deadline is March 31 - will render these pay discrepancies more obvious.

That is a very good thing. But it is just the first step, and fixing the factors driving them will take years of concerted effort. (Unless, like Iceland just has, we make it illegal).

McKinsey, Virgin and others suffer from what Chartered Management Institute (CMI), where I am Chief Executive, calls the ‘glass pyramid’- too few women in senior roles.

This pattern is all too common across organisations in the UK and globally. While women are making up an increasing number of the most junior managerial roles, (66 per cent) according to our latest research, they are still only 25 per cent of the top quartile of senior roles across the over 400 organisations we surveyed. And, just like McKinsey, where men’s bonuses were 76 per cent greater than women’s, we found that male CEO’s bonuses came in a whopping 83 per cent higher than female CEOs.

So does that mean these honoured women leaders are somehow unworthy figureheads?

Hardly. Women like Dame Vivian, Dame Carolyn and Gadhia are helping to call time on a culture that systematically holds women back. By putting targets in place, sponsoring initiatives and talking honestly and openly about these issues, they are setting examples for greater awareness and action. And that’s exactly what’s needed to help drive change.

At the core of a leadership profile where women are paid and promoted less than men, is a workplace culture where 80 per cent of women have seen inappropriate behaviour or remarks based on gender, and the same number have been prevented from expressing their views at work- more commonly called ‘manterrupting’.

These are what I call the ‘broken windows’ of organisations --seemingly small symptoms of incivility towards women in work that open up the possibility of more serious violations. When small infractions remain unchallenged or invisible, it paves the way for tolerating other transgressions, such as sexual harassment, and lack of leadership opportunities. Not only are they tolerated, but they are frequently expected. And met with a wall of silence.

The good news is that, in recent weeks, we seem to have had a watershed moment that will gain momentum in 2018. A century after women gained the vote in Britain, they are also increasingly gaining their voices. Movements such as #MeToo the hashtag that sprung up in the wake of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, where women shared their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse - have helped to end widespread complicity and cover ups.

We now need to apply the same degree of scrutiny to the to the cultures of our organisations. If women are to smash the glass ceiling, we all need to stop breaking windows.

Let’s make 2018 the year women – as well as men - have the courage to call out, change, and challenge the everyday behaviours at work that hold back gender progress.

And let’s not damn the dames for their pay discrepancies, but rather the culture that created these statistics. It will take much more work to address the ‘glass pyramid’, but it is worth it.

Workplaces that understand this will thrive in 2018 and beyond. As for those that don’t? They will be more than damned; they will become lurking dinosaurs. Where’s the honour in that?

The CMI is encouraging women to share their stories of workplace discrimination and how they tackled them. Email brokenwindows@managers.org.uk

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