According to official earnings data presented to the women and equalities select committee, women over 40 in management roles are paid 35 per cent less than men. But once females hit their 60s, the gap widens to 38 per cent.
In her submission of evidence, CMI CEO Ann Francke claimed that with such figure in mind it would take a long time before the situation was resolved.
“Anyone who believes hitting the Davies targets abolished the glass ceiling is misguided,” she said. “Equality and fair progression means much more than having the same number of men and women on your board. Female managers face what I believe is more of a ‘glass pyramid’ than a ceiling. The walls close in with every step up, and you’re likely to slip down the pecking order when it comes to pay.”
She suggested that the higher position a female obtained, the less representation they had.
“The notion which is often put forward that ‘it’s fine because we solved the gender pay gap at the low levels and it will go away’ is actually flawed,” she said, “and I can tell you that in 2005 the pay gap for senior women was less than it is today. The reasons for that are cultural.”
She added: “It’s about the culture of success, about how we define who is successful, it’s about this long hours presenteeism rather than designing work around the modern lifestyle.”
Francke also suggested that female managers faced discrimination from the “old-boys’ networks”, as well as “a more pervasive and potentially more damaging unconscious discrimination”.
Furthermore, Francke claimed that mothers returning to the workplace are often shepherded into part-time or less challenging roles to fit in with childcare from “well-meaning but misguided managers”.
Tackling the gender pay gap will require a root and branch transformation of business culture to address unconscious bias, she added. And while the legislation that will soon require firms to publish details on pay will be welcome, Francke explained that cultural change within companies was paramount to making a lasting difference.
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