“Shocking figures”: Women in finance paid two-thirds less than men

New research shows that women employed as directors at the UK’s largest financial services firms are paid, on average, two-thirds less than their male counterparts.

Data published in February underlines the continued existence of the gender pay gap. Reports show the average pay for a female director to be £247,100 per year. This figure is 66% lower than the £722,300 paid on average to men in director roles, according to a report by employment law firm Fox & Partners. 

A staggering 86% of the women included in the study were found to occupy non-executive positions. The difference in earnings for these non-executive roles reflects the sustained inequality in the sector as these positions have lesser daily responsibilities within the companies. 

This news comes days after the final report of the government-backed Hampton Alexander review of female representation in business. The five-year project announced that women in FTSE 350 firms currently hold more than one-third of boardroom roles. 

While men still dominate leadership positions, the report states that the number of women with board roles has jumped by 50% in the last five years. Numbers released last month highlight that businesses are taking steps in the right direction as the 33% board target has been met.

A similar improvement in non-executive board diversity is detailed in the Fox & Partners research, but their findings also suggest a reluctance to appoint women to leadership roles at the highest level. 

“Boards need to be open to challenging themselves by asking honest questions about the barriers in their organisation that might prevent women reaching the very top,” said Catriona Watt, a partner at Fox & Partners.

“To see long-term change, firms must be committed to taking steps that will lead to more women progressing through the ranks, getting into senior executive positions and closing the pay gap.” 

“These shocking figures prove the gender pay gap is thriving,” said Felicia Willow, head of women’s rights group the Fawcett Society, who have long campaigned for equal pay. 

Companies are being encouraged to resolve gender inequality by signing up to the Government’s women in finance charter. The charter outlines internal targets for senior management and requires companies to publish annual progress reports on the number of women in company leadership roles.

Since 2017, companies employing more than 250 people are required by law to submit yearly gender pay figures. This law is an attempt to monitor the continued gender pay disparity in England. 

However, enforcement of gender pay gap reporting was suspended last year. Regulation will not resume until October due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business sector. The government has said this step would not derail attempts to pay men and women fairly.

Image Credit: Nature