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Sex, power & pay inequality

31 August 2011 #Employment

Another century of pay inequality

The BBC reports today on a study that claims the gender pay gap will last for another 98 years.

Female managers are paid nearly £32,000 per year on average, whereas men earn over £42,000 for doing the same job. 

The study, which was conducted by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) shows that for women managers the pay gap is wider in 2011 than 2010, rising to £10,546 from £10,000. As a result, the number of years it says it will take women managers to achieve equal pay has risen from 57 to 98.

Junior female managers however, now earn more than males, with junior women managers earning nearly £22,000 on average, which is over £600 more than men at the same level.

It also seems that there is a regional divide across the UK, with the biggest gender pay gap being in Northern Ireland, followed by the Midlands and then by London.  Salaries are most equal in Wales.

Sex & power

This study comes out at the same time as the Equality & Human Rights Commission publishes the results of its Sex & Power 2011 survey.  The results indicate that it will take another 70 years to achieve an equal number of women directors in the FTSE 100 and another 45 years to achieve an equal number of women in the senior judiciary.  It will take another 14 general elections - that is, up to 70 years to achieve an equal number of women MPs.

According to the EHRC, British women are better educated than ever before. They are attending university in ever increasing numbers and achieve better degree results than men. The EHRC states that "intelligent, competent women are flooding the junior ranks of law firms, accountancies and medical practices.  These women step on the career ladder and work hard, with a position at the top firmly in sight. In their twenties they level peg with men and we would expect them to enter the management ranks at the same rate as men. However, several years down the track a different picture emerges - one where many have disappeared from the paid workforce or remain trapped....below senior management, leaving the higher ranks to be dominated by men."

Quite simply talented women are missing from the top jobs. 

Go East?

With increasing competition from the emerging economies, can Britain afford to lose these women?

Ironically, according to a report in The Economist, many firms in emerging markets do a better job of promoting women than their Western rivals. In China, 32% of senior managers are female, compared with 23% in America and 19% in Britain. In India, 11% of chief executives of large companies are female, compared with 3% of Fortune 500 bosses in America and 3% of FTSE 100 bosses in Britain.

With companies in the emerging economies facing skills shortages (some expect to lose a fifth of their highly skilled staff every year), large multinational companies are fighting a battle to attract and retain the best brains.  This includes becoming more female friendly.  For example, Goldman Sachs (India) pairs expectant mothers with seasoned working mothers. Infosys, an IT firm in India, provides "pregnancy yoga". Wipro, another IT company, arranges child-care camps on its campus during long holidays. 

Ok, such gimmicks may not work here and arguably we have plenty of family friendly laws & policies to assist women.  Likewise, women working in these emerging markets face many other challenges that their Western counterparts perhaps do not.  However, if the above statistics are anything to go by, is it possible that Western organisations can learn a thing or two from their counterparts operating in the East?

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
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