How do we fix the CEO gender pay gap? Strictly Business debate

How do we fix the gender pay gap for CEOs? Watch the STRICTLY BUSINESS debate on how even women at the top still get paid less







What can we do about the gap that starts right at the top? Ruth Sunderland and Alex Brummer discuss the issue.

At all levels of our careers, from the top of the corporate ladder down, women are paid less than men.

Jane Fraser, the British-born Citibank director known as the First Lady of Wall Street, has been in the news after she received a 9 per cent pay rise last year to more than £20m.

A great haul by any estimate, but still less than their male equivalents.

David Solomons, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, earned £21 million. James Gorman, director of Morgan Stanley, took home £26 million. Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan made £25m and Jamie Dimon, the longtime boss of JP Morgan Chase, made £29m.

Very few people would have much, if any, sympathy for a woman who made £20m in a year. (I’ve carefully avoided the word ‘earned’ here, as it’s hard to conceive of anyone genuinely earning bounties on such a colossal scale.)

Still, if shareholders are going to pay ridiculous amounts to men to run banks, they should do the same to women.

It would be much more sensible, of course, if salaries and bonuses were reduced to more sensible levels for all genders, but that will never happen.

The same applies to sports, where women earn less than men.

The victorious Lionesses are in a much lower situation than the male soccer players. The average salary in the Women’s Super League is £50,000, meaning a year, not a week, which would hardly keep the men in Ferraris.

Financially speaking, it makes more sense to be a WAG than a world-class athlete in her own right, which is just depressing.

This is all pretty rarefied, but it affects ordinary women, who typically earn nearly 15 percent less per year than men.

That is equivalent to working for nothing for almost two months each year. And the injustice doesn’t even end with retirement, because a lower salary means a lower pension.

The explanations are familiar.

Women are constrained at work by childcare responsibilities and other family members. Childcare is expensive and sometimes unreliable. Female employees are less confident. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that we underestimate our own abilities and don’t push ourselves to advance.

There is another explanation: antediluvian attitudes.

Although overt sexism has now become much less common, most women can recount incidents of unconscious discrimination at work.

A recent thread on Mumsnet was full of angry female executives venting about how they had been mistaken for the AP, sent on errands for men, and other similar indignities.

Many women may not even realize that they are paid so much less than their male counterparts or even the men who report to them.

Much greater transparency is needed.

When the BBC made the rewards for its top stars public, the disparities were shocking.

But women don’t know if they are paid fairly compared to men, either at the same company or at other companies in their industry.

We should have the right to see anonymous data on salaries at our level in the corporate hierarchy, so we can see for ourselves if we are being cheated out of our value.