Money, money, money: It's a rich man's world among U.K.'s high earners

Gender pay gap persists in Britain

Money, money, money: It's a rich man's world among U.K.'s high earners
Pound coins are seen in this photo illustration taken in Manchester, Britain, on Sept. 6, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Illustration

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Almost 80 per cent of high earners in Britain are male and the gender pay gap among the nation's richest will not close for another 36 years at current rates of progress, a study showed on Monday.

Some 79 per cent of the 860,000 Britons earning more than 100,000 pounds per year (C$173,000) were men, investment platform easyMoney said in a study based on government data.

While this is down from 83 per cent in 2011, the proportion of women high earners grew by just 0.8 per cent annually over the past five years, easyMoney said.

"There is still a long way to go — even though there are cracks, the glass ceiling is very much still there," said easyMoney Chief Executive Andrew de Candole.

The gender pay gap has been a persistent problem in Britain, even though sex discrimination was outlawed in the 1970s.

The country's overall gender pay gap stands at 18.4 per cent, according to government data, with an average wage of 28,677 pounds.

Businesses and charities with more than 250 workers must publish figures on their gender pay gap every year under a law introduced in 2018, but they account for less than half Britain's workforce.

Some of Britain's largest employers have been criticized for the slow pace of narrowing their pay gaps.

The gender pay gap, which measures the difference between the average hourly salary of men and women, at HSBC (HSBA.L), Britain's biggest bank, grew to 61 per cent in the year to April 2018, up from 59 per cent a year earlier.

The gap also widened at the Bank of England in the past year despite a pledge by Governor Mark Carney to increase the number of women in senior roles.

Women working at the Bank of England were paid an average of 24.6 per cent less than male employees in the past year, up from 24.2 per cent a year earlier, according to the government equalities office.

"The issue that huge corporates and institutions have to contend with, is the fact that size equates to sluggishness," Hephzi Pemberton, founder of charity Equality Group, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"This isn't necessarily a reflection of the ethos of the company, or their determination to instill change, it's the sheer amount of bureaucracy and long entrenched work cultures that slow this intention down drastically," Pemberton said.

Among companies narrowing their gender pay gap was Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.AS) whose female employees in Britain earned on average 18.6 per cent less than their male colleagues in 2018, the company said last year, narrowing the pay difference from 2017's 22.2 per cent.

The global cost of gender pay inequality in the workplace could be more than C$211 trillion in lost earnings, according to the World Bank. 

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