How to address the gender pay gap for CEOs? Watch the STRICTLY BUSINESS debate on how even women at the top still get paid less
What can we do about the gap that starts at the top? Ruth Sunderland and Alex Brummer debate the issue.
At all levels of our careers, from the top of the corporate ladder, women are paid less than men.
Jane Fraser, the British Citibank executive known as the First Lady of Wall Street, has made headlines after receiving a 9% pay rise last year to more than £20million.
Vast loot by any estimate – but still less than her male counterparts.
David Solomons, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, won £21m. Morgan Stanley boss James Gorman won £26m. Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan won £25m and longtime JP Morgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon £29m.
Very few people would have much, if any, sympathy for a woman who made £20million in a year. (I’ve carefully avoided the word “won” here, as it’s hard to conceive of anyone truly winning awards on such a colossal scale.)
Even so, if shareholders have to pay paltry sums to men to run banks, they should do the same for women.
It would be far wiser, of course, if salaries and bonuses were lowered for all genders to more reasonable levels, but that will never happen.
The same goes for sport, where women earn less than men.
The victorious Lionesses are much worse off than the male footballers. The average salary in the Women’s Super League is £50,000 – that’s a year, not a week – which would hardly keep men in Ferraris.
Financially speaking, it makes more sense to be a WAG than a full-fledged world-class sportswoman, which is just plain depressing.
All this is rather rare, but it affects ordinary women, who generally earn almost 15% less per year than men.
This is equivalent to working for nothing for almost two months every year. And the injustice doesn’t even stop at retirement, because a lower salary means a lower pension.
The explanations are familiar.
Women are held back at work by the responsibility of caring for children and other family members. Childcare is expensive and sometimes unreliable. Employees are less confident. There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that we underestimate our own abilities and fail to push ourselves for promotions.
There is another explanation: antediluvian attitudes.
Although overt sexism has become much less common, most women can relate incidents of unconscious discrimination at work.
A recent thread on Mumsnet was full of angry female executives explaining how they had been mistaken for the AP, sent to run errands for the men and similar indignities.
Many women may not even realize that they are paid far less than their male counterparts or even the men who report to them.
We need a lot more transparency.
When the BBC made public the awards for its top stars, the disparities were shocking.
But women do not know if they are paid fairly compared to men, whether in the same company or in other companies in their sector.
We should have the right to see anonymous salary data at our level in the corporate hierarchy, so we can see for ourselves if we are being misled about our worth.