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As 527 firms reveal gender figures...

Pay gap blamed on more men in senior positions

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Virgin Money: 32.5% gender gap (photo by Terry Murden)

New data revealing big gender pay differences in UK companies has exposed the gap in senior positions held by men and women.

Organisations with 250 or more workers must publish figures by April and so far 527 have revealed that women’s average hourly pay is less than for men, in some cases by more than 50%.

But some analysts said the real issue was the gap between the number of men and women in senior positions rather than differences in pay for doing the same job. This was the main cause of the average hourly differential.

For example, women’s hourly pay at Easyjet is 52% lower than men’s. However, all its pilots receive an average of £92,400 a year and only 6% of its UK pilots are women.

On the other hand,  69% of lower-paid cabin crew are women, with an average annual salary of £24,800.

The average hourly rates for women at Edinburgh and Newcastle based Virgin Money is 32.5% less than men, but it pays women and men the same salary for doing the same job.

Betting group Ladbrokes Coral also attributed its gender pay gap largely down to “weak representation at our senior levels”.

High street chain Phase Eight’s chief executive Benjamin Barnett said most male employees worked in head office rather than in shops which affected its figures. Only five of its 44 male employees did not work in head office.

Opposition MPs leapt on the data to call on the UK government to do more.

Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss said: “While there’s an obligation for large firms, all employers should take a long hard look at themselves when it comes to tackling the gender pay gap.

“Latest figures from some of the biggest companies across the country reveal the significant distance left to travel towards equality.

“It’s not just about equal pay, ensuring equivalence regardless of gender for the same type of work, it’s about creating opportunities for women to develop and flourish in the top jobs.”

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