Opinion

Women have little faith the gender pay gap will be closed

6 min read

15 July 2015

Former deputy editor

British pay growth is at the highest level since 2007, but recruitment marketplace Glassdoor has found women are less positive about securing a pay rise than men.

It comes following prime minister David Cameron’s plan to tackle the ongoing gender pay gap “scandal”, which he aims to solve by demanding that businesses with more than 250 employees share the salary details of staff.

However, some hit back, remarking that female staff at smaller companies will be left unsupported.

“Women are more likely to be in low-paid jobs such as ‘the five Cs’ – clerical, catering, caring, cashiering and cleaning – leaving them trapped in a cycle of in-work poverty that many never escape,” said Kathryn Nawrockyi, gender equality director, Business in the Community.

Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, backed the comment from Nawrockyi and said businesses should reveal more than just pay rates.

“Given that the gender pay gap is widest at the top, it is vital that companies track pay across different job levels,” Francke explained. “The pay gap isn’t the only problem facing women at work, as the lack of women in senior roles is still a huge problem.”

That’s particularly true for the financial sector as young women are convinced the industry can’t offer them career progression. PwC found women are abandoning their finance posts to find opportunities elsewhere, while others avoided the space entirely for better chances of advancement. A spokesperson for the company called it a “wake-up call”.

Despite Cameron’s efforts, which may very well change the outlook in time, his announcement has been made alongside Glassdoor research that highlights the need for more equally spread support in the job market. The recruitment channel revealed that just 27 per cent of women believe they’ll receive a pay rise in the next 12 months, which spiked to 40 per cent for male counterparts.

Looking deeper into the research showed that things have only gotten worse over time, with pay rise positivity among females declining by three per cent on the previous quarter.

Elsewhere, 32 per cent of women think it’s likely they’ll be able to find another job if they lost their current position – a feeling that was shared by 37 per cent of men.

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As such, 63 per cent of women like a line manager to be supportive, a trait less desired by men with just 52 per cent appreciative of the quality. Additionally, the study showed 53 per cent of women want to feel valued by their boss, which fell to 45 per cent of men.

“Salaries are starting to move up but women risk getting left behind if more men than women get a pay rise. While the economic news generally is more positive, this is a worrying development if it means that female employees are being held back in their career and men are being treated more favourably,” said Jon Ingham, Glassdoor career and workplace expert.

“This is particularly concerning since it is widely accepted that women are less likely to be as assertive in negotiating when they get a job offer, so if they start low and stay low, then we’ve got a serious case of workplace inequality on our hands that is only going to get worse.”

With equality in mind, just 14 per cent of employees would like to have a female boss, which climbed to 25 per cent for a male boss – though 61 per cent had no preference.

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Changes are gradually being made though. Deloitte promoted 75 members of staff to partners in June and almost of third of them were women.

“25 per cent of both the firm’s executive and board are female and we are committed to continuing to do more to create more opportunities in Deloitte for women at a senior level,” said CEO David Sproul.

Seemingly though, salary isn’t everything for female workers – something Cameron may want to recognise. The Glassdoor study found that a low salary was a major factor for 30 per cent of women to find a new job, lower than 39 per cent of men who left for more pay.

If women – who lead the way for independent professionals – can improve their confidence levels then there will be no holding them back. A report in February highlighted that females are absolutely capable of securing senior roles, but are failing to harness the leadership skills they already possess in order to do so.

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