The average female executive suffers a lifetime earnings gap of £423,390, and the gap between male and female average pay at management level stands at £10,060 a year, according to new figures from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
Collated by survey specialists XpertHR, the report considered salary and turnover data for 38,843 British people in executive positions and found a woman and a man entering executive roles aged 25 and working their way up the career ladder before retiring at 60 would take home pre-tax totals of £1,092,940 and £1,516,330 respectively.
Today, the average male in an executive role earns a basic salary of £40,325 over the 12 months, compared to £30,265 for a female in the same type of role.
Female directors earning an average basic salary of £127,257 – £14,689 less than the male director average of £141,946.
However, female junior executives earn marginally more (£363) than males for the second year running, with women earning £21,491 compared to men's £21,128.
Ann Francke, CMI chief executive, said while a lot of businesses were now working to bring gender equality to boards, there was a long way to go to obtain parity on pay.
"Allowing these types of gender inequalities to continue is precisely the kind of bad management that we need to stamp out. Companies are missing out on the full range of management potential at a time when we need to be doing everything we can to boost economic growth.”
The research also showed the bias extended to annual bonuses too; of the 91 participating employers providing data on the payment of bonuses, women receive less than half what men are awarded in monetary terms – the average bonus for a male executive was £7,496, compared to £3,726 for a female executive.
This picture gets worse as women and men progress in their careers with 50% of males at director level receiving bonuses compared to 36% of females.
A average bonus paid to a male director was £65,000, £7,000 more than that awarded to a female director.
Redundancies painted a bleak picture for women too: the labour turnover data showed more women fell foul of job cuts in the 12-month period between August 2011 and August 2012 than men – 4.3% of female executives were made redundant, compared to 3.2% of male executives.
This difference grows as women move up the ranks – twice as many female directors were made redundant compared to male directors (7.4% compared to 3.1%). The number of women losing their jobs has almost doubled since the last survey from 2.2% in 2011.
In contrast, more men than women left their jobs of their own volition – 14.2% of men walked away from positions in the 12-month period compared to 12.2% of women.
Francke called on the government to demand more transparency from companies on pay, naming and shaming organisations that are perpetuating inequality and celebrating those that achieve gender equality in the executive suite and the executive paycheck.
Employers also needed to take action to change corporate cultures, according to Francke. Development opportunities such as mentoring and qualifications have been proven to be highly successful in helping women build the confidence and skills needed to realise their potential.
Are women their own worst enemy?
In an effort to help women progress at work, the CMI has started collating advice from senior women on tips to help fellow colleagues reach the next level in their careers.
- “Doing a great job is necessary but not sufficient - build a strong internal and external network; be as visible as possible; and continuously learn from your experiences and develop yourself.” - Dame Lynne Brindley DBE, former chief executive of the British Library
- “I believe that women who want to advance in their careers should be very serious and well prepared, try to find a mentor, work very hard and let their employers understand that they are looking for a really long term career and not just ‘a job’.” - Honourable Barbara Singer Thomas, chair of the Pension Protection Fund
- “Research we've done suggest that women aren't as assertive or as tough when it comes to salary and promotion negotiations. It seems we are less likely to ask for our worth, so that has to be the first step. Set your eyes on your target, work hard to prove yourself and then ask. Men are four times more likely than women to ask for a pay increase - that plays a significant part in gender pay equality.” - Lisa Smosarski, editor at Stylist
Lorna Leonard, a financial director for IT outsourcing specialist Sovereign, has worked in accountancy and financial positions for more than 26 years.
In that time, she has experienced and challenged pay differences between her male colleagues, but she argues in some cases women are their own worst enemy.
"I don't think there are many employers who will look at a female and male entrant for a job and say, 'well I'm going to pay the woman less money', but if the woman offers to work for me for £5,000 a year less, I might be tempted to take her offer," she told Huff Post UK. "Men are better at asking for pay rises too."
Leonard also said she believed men were being "more devious" than women, by playing to a perception that if you work more hours in the office, you deserve more money.
"I had a male colleague at a previous job who used to deliberately wait in the office until after the boss had left, just so that the boss would see that their car was still in its bay," she said.
"I know that man was playing solitaire, not doing extra work, but he wanted the boss to leave before he did.
"Employers don't realise they're discriminating against someone who's in the office for less time, but they do. I've been in board rooms where they've discussed someone who wanted to work for three days a week instead of five - but would get the same amount of work done - and the individual was criticised for 'not showing the commitment needed'."
Leonard admitted she had female colleagues in the past who played up to the perception too, but said on the whole, women were too busy with other commitments outside the office to "play these games".
Does your office value the hours you spend there more than the work you produce? Let us know your thoughts below.