In Focus: Advice for Women  

Financial services 'one of the worst' gender pay offenders

Financial services 'one of the worst' gender pay offenders

Financial services and insurance are the among the worst offenders when it comes to the gender pay gap, a senior director has stated.

Speaking to FTAdviser in Focus, Fiona Hathorn, chief executive of Women on Boards UK, said the UK financial services sector was seriously lacking in terms of closing the gender pay gap. 

According to current pay reporting data, the gender pay gap across the whole UK is 17 per cent. When you look at large FTSE 250 companies, the median gap is about 10 per cent and the bonus gap is approximately 2 per cent, she said.

However, Hathorn claimed: "The financial services sector is one of the worst. The median gap is 37 per cent in financial services and insurance, and the bonus gap is 52 per cent. It is absolutely huge. 

"These are highly paid sectors and this is why the bonus gap is so important."

She said much of this was still because of traditional male networks and old-school ties that allocate discretionary bonuses unfairly, despite equivalence of experience and responsibility across similar roles. 

She said it was "a shame" that UK legislation does not force companies to set out plans to close the gap. 

"I think that is really important – and who in government is actually looking at who has reported and who has published their data. It is almost as if there is no audit. This is where employee empowerment and consumer empowerment is really important."

Hathorn expressed positivity over the fact that, at the time of recording earlier this month (October), more than 10,000 UK companies had already reported their gender pay gap data, which shows that a mass of companies are taking their responsibilities towards pay equality seriously.

However, 50 per cent of companies did not report last year at all, choosing to use the pandemic as a reason not to disclose. 

So, according to Hathorn, the publication of data in 2021 could simply be companies reporting historic data a year late. 

She said: "Thing is, if you publish it, you have to potentially explain it, whether to a staff member or employees or shareholders." So it is understandable that some companies are loath to publish and to proclaim them.

While companies have published, quite often it is extremely difficult to find the data on the website. "I think companies are still hiding behind the truth," she said. 

And this means it becomes "really difficult" when it comes to transparency for shareholders, customers and employees. 

To listen to the full interview, click the link above. 

simoney.kyriakou@ft.com