Pay Gap Persists for UK Professionals

By Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)

A new survey released last week by the UK’s Chartered Management Institute shows a significant gap in compensation, advancement prospects, and job security between men and women in the UK.

At the management level, on average, women receive £10,060 a year less than men. That difference, after a lifetime of work, would equal more than £400,000.

CMI explains, “a woman and a man entering executive roles aged 25 and working their way up the career ladder until retiring aged 60 would take home pre-tax totals of £1,092,940 and £1,516,330 respectively, based on today’s levels.”

But the differences didn’t stop at the paycheck. According to CMI, women receive fewer bonuses, fewer promotions, and were even more likely to get laid off during the last year.

Baroness Prosser, Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, remarked, “The gender pay and opportunities gaps are intrinsically linked. The opportunities gap leads to the lack of advance for women through the executive pipeline and this in turn provides for the gender pay gap.”

She noted that while employers should take the responsibility for ensuring they have fair compensation and promotion processes, women can also seek out better practical support in order to help them advance.

Pipeline Challenges

The study noted a clear pipeline issue – while women make up almost three quarters (69 percent) of junior executives, top level jobs are dominated by men (with women holding 40 percent of department head roles and only 24 percent of chief executive positions).

Ann Francke, CMI Chief Executive, commented, “A lot of businesses have been focused on getting more women on boards but we’ve still got a lot to do on equal pay and equal representation in top executive roles. Women make up almost three out of four at the bottom of the ladder but only one out of four at the top.”

“This lack of a strong talent pipeline has to change, and fast,” she continued. “Allowing these types of gender inequalities to continue is precisely the kind of bad management that we need to stamp out. Companies are missing out on the full range of management potential at a time when we need to be doing everything we can to boost economic growth.”

The study tracked 38,843 people in professional jobs in the UK, and also tracked bonus data from 91 employers.

Male executives, on average, received a bonus of £7,496, compared to an average bonus size of £3,726 for female executives. And that disparity only grows over the course of a career.

According to the study, half of male directors received bonuses, while only 36 percent of female directors received bonuses. Male directors received an average bonus of £65,000, £7,000 higher than female directors.

Finally, women lost jobs at a higher rate than men in the past year. CMI notes, “4.3% of female executives were made redundant, compared to 3.2% of male executives.”


Francke called for more transparency around pay, both within companies and externally. By “naming and shaming,” employees will know what they’re missing out on compared to their peers at similar companies. Gender equity could become a competitive edge in terms of attracting the best employees for those firms that do provide fair and equal pay and promotion.

She continued, “The new plans to require companies to report on the number of women in senior positions are also welcome. Government should move ahead with plans to reform parental leave, which will remove one of the barriers that makes it impractical for women to play a greater a part in the workforce.”

CMI also highlighted the importance of building inclusive cultures at firms. Francke explained:

“Employers need to take action to change corporate cultures. Development opportunities such as mentoring and qualifications have been proven to be highly successful in helping women build the confidence and skills needed to realise their potential. Employers failing to recognise this are missing a trick – create an environment where your staff can thrive, are diverse and are paid fairly, and your business will thrive too.”

Pay inequity is a symptom of a corporate mindset that is not conducive to growth, especially in a competitive market where every firm needs the best and brightest employees to succeed. Fixing the root causes of the inequity mindset will go along way in boosting pay for women, and returns for companies.