Female representation on boards, the ‘glass ceiling’ and pay differentials are all topics that have hit the headlines recently. The subject of gender inequality got a further push with the recent release of the film Suffragette. So we thought we’d carry a series of blogs on the subject of women and the world of work. We begin with a focus on pay differential.
Increasingly we are seeing more women taking senior executive roles in the workplace and they are undeniably a valuable resource to many big name organisations. Indeed, now almost a quarter of all FTSE 100 board positions are being filled by women, with female representation almost doubling to 23.5% in the past four years. Furthermore the total number of female senior executives has progressed too, increasing from 19.9 to 21%.
So why is pay differential still an issue 45 years on from the Equal Pay introduction?
As a noticeable force in today’s workplace it may come as a shock that the gender pay gap remains one of the biggest examples of inequality for women today. Indeed women in the UK earn around 80p for every £1 earned by a man, according to The Office for National Statistics (ONS).
While the ONS data spans all levels of employment, our own figures show that at a senior level male expectations for salaries are often higher than that of women, with male non-executive directors expecting up to a 51% higher salary for the same position. Similarly, a male Finance or Chief Finance Officer expects to achieve a 25% higher salary than a woman at the same level.
So what’s being done about it?
In a bid to tackle inequalities among the general workforce the government will be introducing a wide programme of support for women, including 30 hours of free childcare. This will be particularly helpful to women as, despite there being a rise in the number of stay at home dads, women are still far more likely to shoulder the burden of childcare and have to work part-time as a result. The majority of part-time work often requires a lower skill-set and pays less, therefore resulting in women in essence being penalised for motherhood.
At the same time, to help set the aspirations of girls towards higher paid careers, the government’s new careers service is showing schoolgirls that no profession is off limits. This is in response to research which suggests that gender stereotypes within schools, affect our choice of work. With few women opting for what are perceived as non-traditional subjects for women, such as maths and physics and therefore few selecting non-traditional careers, such as engineering; this service hopes to increase the number of women opting for such career paths.
To further support women in the workplace David Cameron has released plans to provide greater pay transparency by forcing businesses with at least 250 employees to publish salary data to highlight the gender pay gap. More than 10 million workers will be covered by these rules.
It will be interesting to see how these and other measures impact on the aspirations, opportunities and remuneration of working women.
In our next blog a successful business woman will share her experiences of getting to the top of the career ladder, how she did it and what she learned along the way.
To discuss your permanent or interim senior executive recruitment needs call 01962 657 428.