Gender Pay Gap: Still A Problem For The Profession?
Ever since the 1970's, women have campaigned for equal pay for equal work and the expectation is that, due to relevant legislation, the gender pay gap no longer exists If it does, it is often put down to the choices women make, the fact they are more likely to work part time or in lower skilled work or simply because they fail to push for higher pay due to a lack of confidence.
While much of this may be the case, the latest figures to come from the Office for National Statistics show that the pay gap has actually widened over the last year and for the first time in five years there has been a reversal of improving pay figures for women. For full time workers, the pay gap is now 10% overall. This is represented as 13% in the public sector and 19% in the private sector. This is despite the Equal Pay Act being brought into effect 40 years ago.
So, what about the financial sector and in particular, accounting? The ONS figures suggest that female accountants earned a salary of just over £32,000 during 2013, while men earned £38,500. This represents 81% of the male salary. However this compares favourably to figures from 2010 when women were paid just 77% of their male counterparts.
While these figures appear to be positive, it is clear that there is still some way to to go. Recommendations have been made by the House of Lords that women make up at least 25% of all FTSE100 boards by 2015. The 4 main accounting firms are among this group. Currently just 14.5% of such positions are held by women. While equal numbers of women are entering the profession, they are failing to reach the top positions where they can earn the most money.
Another study carried out by The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in 2013 has looked into how the pay gap breaks down when age is taken into account. It appears that women under the age of 30 who are chartered accountants fare best with stable incomes currently at 97% of their male colleagues. This is a 5% improvement. The accounting and financial services sector has been lucky to see an overall rise in salaries for all workers and it is possible that this has led to greater parity between male and female employees.
It is difficult to make recommendations for those entering the workforce or those moving jobs – however as recruiters it is clear that having a professional take on your salary negotiation will go some way towards ensuring there is an adherence to equal pay. There is some evidence that certain accountancy firms are recognising their role in this and they have brought in positive discrimination to encourage women into their workforce. Furthermore, the Labour party has called for transparency and declaration of pay rates.
These are all positive steps and it does appear that the profession and financial sector can hold its head up as being a good role model for equal pay – but there is still some way to go.