It’s payback time


Women work for two hours a day for free when compared to men. Only proactivity will close the gap

[button type=”large” color=”black” rounded=”1″ link=”″ ]READ THE FULL GRAPHIC VERSION[/button]

Bridging the gender pay gap in the UK by 2025 would add as much as £150bn to the economy. Despite this, the World Economic Forum recently calculated that the global gender pay gap will take 170 years to close. CMI’s last gender salary survey revealed that this gap currently stands at 23% in the UK – meaning women managers effectively work for free for nearly two hours each day.

The need to close the gender pay gap seems broadly to be a recognized and well-understood problem. So why is progress so slow in addressing this, and why does it remain such a complex and stubborn issue?

Don’t ask, don’t get

CMI’s 2016 National Management Salary Survey shows that while women comprise 73% of the workforce in entry and junior-level roles, female representation drops to 42% at the level of senior management, with just 32% of director-level posts being held by women. Male managers are 40% more likely to be promoted than women. Yet one of the reasons why women earn fewer promotions than men is because they don’t ask. Rather than risk being branded aggressive and pushy, most women simply put up and shut up. Men are far more likely to put themselves forward. This results in the ‘missing middle’ of women in middle management. As it stands, the future doesn’t look much better – we still have 480,000 women predicted to be missing from UK management in 2024.

Cultural bias 

One excuse that regularly rears its head to explain unequal levels of pay is the ‘motherhood penalty’ – mums taking a break from the office and returning part-time. This penalty affects not just mothers, but all women. The reasons for this are cultural. The expectation is that women aged 30-40 already have, or will soon be having, children and therefore shouldn’t be put forward for roles involving extensive foreign travel, for example. While such decisions might be taken by employers in best faith – to balance work and family – it’s one the individual ought to take herself since it can profoundly alter careers and achievements.

Changing the culture

Employers have a massive role to play in changing workplace culture, but they need to recognize it as a problem. They need to implement proactive sponsorship programmes for talented women, and engage men as agents of implementing
this change.

The good news is that most senior male managers strongly support gender parity. In CMI’s most recent survey of 851 managers across the UK, 83% were in favour of a gender-balanced workplace, 75% believe senior male leaders have a particular responsibility to support women’s career development, and 70% say they actively champion gender balance in management.

But what can female managers do to help move this along too? Have the nerve to do what men seemingly do more naturally – showcase their achievements and ask
for promotion.

While the global gender pay gap may not close until 2186, we’re working towards a time much closer in the future when UK employers realize the value of gender balance at all levels in their organizations, and the role that equality in remuneration plays in this. Research shows that balanced management teams are 15% more likely to outperform competitors – and we know diversity in management teams improves decision-making and reduces the risk of groupthink.

Blueprint for Balance

At CMI we’ve recently launched a  ‘Blueprint for Balance’. This is an innovative open source tool that anyone can contribute to, designed to help organizations achieve 50/50 balance and fairer pay structures through sharing insights, research and best practice. We’d welcome any contributions to this important issue from Dialogue readers.

— For more information on the CMI Women campaign and to get involved, visit:

— To share your guidance on gender parity see CMI’s Blueprint for Balance: