Gender salary survey, a century of unequal pay

Written by
Changeboard Team

03 Sep 2012

03 Sep 2012 • by Changeboard Team

Only 107 years to go

The Equal Pay Act was intended to ensure women are paid fairly; it saddens me to announce that exactly four decades on, at current rates of increase equal pay for women within the HR industry could still be more than a century away.

Compiled in association with XpertHR, the research reveals that if the rate at which female salaries are currently increasing does not improve, then women in management roles within HR will have to wait until 2117 to be paid the same as their male colleagues. With 107 years to go, this wait is longer than in any other sector.

Unequal pay = talent shortfall

Although the rate of salary increase for female HR managers was 3.1 per cent over the past 12 months compared to 2.9 per cent for men, they are paid an average of £7,847 less than their male colleagues. Appallingly, the problem starts from the moment women take on their first junior level management role, with male junior executives earning around £1,000 more.

If this trend continues, it won’t just be women who lose out, but organisations too. Employers who fail to address the issue of unequal pay risk losing talented employees, and a talent shortage will prove detrimental both to the UK’s economic recovery and future business performance.

Worryingly, our research indicates that a female talent drain may have already opened up. A combination of inadequate pay and tough economic conditions may partly explain an increase in the number of female resignations, particularly at director level. 7.7 per cent of female directors voluntarily left their posts in the last year and, while we can only speculate as to what prompted them to leave, their former organisations must surely be worse off as a result of their departure. 

Enforcing equal pay

Simply put, organisations can’t expect to attract and hang on to their best female managers if they continue to undervalue them. If female managers feel they are being undervalued, motivation levels will certainly suffer and this, in turn, can have a detrimental effect on productivity. Female HR managers need to recognise the severity of the problem and Challenge inequality where they can, not only within their own careers but on behalf of those staff they are employed to look out for.

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is calling on the government to take greater steps to enforce pay equality including imposing sanctions on those companies that fail to act, and pushing UK employers to urgently review how they go about recruiting and retaining female talent. Individual managers also have a role to play in hastening our progress towards equal pay and CMI has launched the Ambitious Women toolkit to help with this. It contains practical advice and information for female managers on issues such as how to ask for a pay rise and Challenge unequal pay, skills development and returning to work after maternity leave.

Inequality in the workplace is inexcusable

Forty years on from the introduction of the Equal Pay Act, now is the time for decisive action to close the gap. Inequality in the modern workplace is unacceptable and should not be tolerated under any circumstances.

Employees should be paid fairly for the work they do. Remuneration and reward should be based on performance, skills and experience; gender shouldn’t come into it. For female HR managers to have to wait more than a century to achieve pay equality is inexcusable.