Public sector pays female executives less than men

7 Nov 12
Female executives in the public sector earn almost £6,000 less a year on average than their male counterparts, a survey has revealed.
By Vivienne Russell | 7 November 2012

Female executives in the public sector earn almost £6,000 less a year on average than their male counterparts, a survey has revealed.

However, the annual National Management Salary Survey also showed that the gender pay gap in the public sector is significantly narrower than in the private sector, where it is just over £10,000.

The survey, carried out by XpertHR for the Chartered Management Institute, collated data from almost 39,000 people employed in executive roles in UK organisations between August 2011 and August 2012. Of these, 3,701 worked in the public sector.

Male executives in the public sector earned an average basic salary of £36,466 over the 12 months to August 2012, compared with £30,653 for a woman in the same type of job.

CMI chief executive Ann Francke said there was still ‘a lot to do’ on equal pay and equal representation in top executive roles. ‘Our public services – just like our companies – are missing out on the full range of management potential at a time when we need to be doing everything we can to deliver better and more efficient services,’ she said.

Petra Wilson, the CMI’s director of policy and research, told Public Finance that, while there was still a significant gender pay gap of £10,000 for the most senior posts, public sector pay for team leaders, function heads and departmental heads was broadly equal between men and women.

‘A lot of that comes down to much greater transparency on pay in the public sector. The 2010 Equality Act and public sector equality duties means that much of the public sector has undertaken equal pay audits and quite rigorous pay and grading reviews as part of broader equality initiatives,’ she said.

Wilson added that the disclosure of public sector salaries above £100,000 had ‘put public sector employers on the spot’ and made them address the issue. High-profile equal pay claims, such as that brought by former employees of Birmingham City Council, had also focused employers’ minds and brought the issue out into the open.

The survey also revealed that job cuts hit more women than men, with 4.3% of female executives being made redundant compared with 3.2% of males. This difference was exacerbated as women moved up the management hierarchy. Twice as many women directors were made redundant than men, at 7.4% and 3.1% respectively.

Francke called on ministers and employers to take action. ‘The government should demand more transparency on pay, naming and shaming organisations that are perpetuating inequality and celebrating those that achieve gender equality in the executive suits and the executive pay packet,’ she said, adding that employers also needed to address the culture of their organisations.

‘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 organisation will thrive too.’

Wilson added that there was 'lots of positive learning' from the public sector that could be translated across to the private sector.

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