Human Resources



The more senior the role, the worse is the gender gap

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The much-publicised pay gap is real – men globally are being paid an average of 17.6% more than women, in research from more than 8 million employees across 33 countries.

The findings, from Korn Ferry Hay Group’s PayNet database, pinned down the reasons behind the gap to a lack of representation of women in the highest-paying job functions and industries, and at the most senior job levels.

Even when evaluating the same job, function and company to compare like-for-like, the true gender pay gap shrinks to favour men by 1.6% globally.

  • Overall average pay gap – 17.6% (favours men)
  • Pay gap after controlling for same job level – 6.6% (favours men)
  • Pay gap after controlling for same job level at same company – 2.2% (favours men)
  • Pay gap after controlling for same job level at same company and same function – 1.6% (favours men)

Ben Frost, a global reward expert at Hay Group, explained: “If we want to close the pay gap and make a difference, it is the road to the top jobs that needs to be the focus. This is the pay gap problem.”

Among these top jobs he refers to, the research found women occupy just 20 CEO positions (4%) and one-fourth of executive/senior-level and manager positions (25%) at S&P 500 companies, while they account for 45% of the labour force at these companies.

But it’s not just seniority – the number of women in the highest-paying industries (for example, oil & gas, technology and life sciences) is also lacking.

Even in lower-paying sectors, where women dominate – such as hospitality and tourism – men hold the vast majority of management and executive roles, which are the highest paid jobs in those industries.

Similarly, women make up 40% of the workforce for clerical jobs across sectors, but only account for 27% of manager and 17% of executive level jobs.

The pay gap by country

Hay Group's pay gap research

Mexico placed among the world’s worst pay gaps at 30.7%, while UK was not far behind at 28.6%. Within Asia, India landed at 18.8%.

Peggy Hazard, managing principal at Korn Ferry Hay Group and co-author of the study, called out organisations for needed to scrutinise the unconscious male bias in the ways they hire, develop, promote and reward employees.

She added: “Only when we have more women in higher paying jobs will we see the gender pay gap begin to close – not only by further equaling pay at similar job levels, but ensuring females reach the most senior roles, at the top of global organisations.”

Image: Shutterstock

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