Salary survey

Tech pay ‘competitive’, but gender gap ‘challenging’

Karen Meechan
Karen Meechan: maturing system

Salaries in Scottish technology companies remain competitive with other UK hubs but the gap in pay and leadership between men and women “continues to be a challenge”, according to a new survey.

Research found that Scotland was able to offer salaries that attract some of the best talent, indicating a “maturing” tech system.

However, the survey by Carlyle Associates also revealed a stark gulf in the pay and status of senior figures in the sector, with men accounting for 81% of CEO, 80% COOs and 67% of CFOs. Only 6% of CTOs are female. 

In terms of pay, there was a 24% difference in average base salary between male and female c-suite executives surveyed.  The average base salary for a male c-suite executive is £113,900 and £91,700 for a female.

Fraser Lyle, principal at Carlyle, said: “Achieving gender diversity continues to be a challenge across scaling technology businesses in Scotland.  

“The gender pay gap is well documented across all sectors and the survey results show scaling technology businesses in Scotland are not immune. We all must continue to play our part in achieving parity in pay across this sector and all others.”   

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The survey found that average base salaries rose by 23% in scaling companies compared to 16% across the sector.

Of those surveyed, the average base salary for a CEO was £71,000 at seed investment, £111,000 at Series A, £164,000 at Series B, and £172,000 at Series C. CEOs surveyed did not always have the highest salary in their respective organisation but consistently had the most equity. 

In relation to equity, the survey, compiled for trade body ScotlandIS, found that CEOs are the most likely c-suite executives to have equity (89%), followed by CTOs (72%), COOs (50%, CFOs (44%), and CCOs (39%). 

Karen Meechan, CEO of ScotlandIS, said: “The data shows that we have a maturing tech ecosystem that is competitive against other tech hubs – in London, the rest of the UK, and internationally – in terms of attracting and retaining c-suite talent.

“There is now a genuine network of like-minded peers for c-suite Execs to tap into. We can’t afford to be complacent though, as leadership talent will always have the option of working elsewhere, particularly with hybrid working models.”

The survey findings are aimed at supporting current and future investment in the tech sector, an increasingly important sector for Scotland’s economy.  It is estimated that approximately £650 million of investment was secured by Scottish fast growth technology companies in 2021. 

Carlyle partner Fiona James-Martin added: “2021 demonstrated that there were encouraging levels of investment in innovation during pandemic times, and in Scotland we are seeing increasing levels of investment into the high growth technology sector from regions like North America, Europe, and Asia.  

“These dynamics, coupled with increasing demand for skillsets in this area, are contributing towards increases in salaries across the board.”

“These findings are not a surprise to us, given the influx of investment we have seen in technology over the last year with larger exit multiples and larger funding rounds being achieved.”   

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