HR’s gender pay gap shames profession

The
HR profession, supposedly the guardians of equality in the workplace, is paying
female HR managers on average £8,000 less than their male counterparts.

Research
of almost 22,000 people across private and public sectors for the National
Management Salary Survey found that male HR managers are paid an average of
£49,161, while women earn £41,035 – a 20 per cent difference.

Of
the top 10 best paid jobs (see chart), the pay gap is only bigger in the
financial and actuarial/insurance functions.

However,
the research by the Chartered Management Institute did find that the outlook
for women is looking better, with female department heads now earning on
average £1,395 more than men. The number of women directors also rose from one
in 10 in 2000 to one in seven this year.

The
average annual salary rise was higher for women than men for the eighth year in
a row, with female managers commanding 5 per cent pay rises compared to 4.7 per
cent for men. However, this will be scant comfort to female HR managers, who
have slipped down the pay table, from second place last year to sixth in 2004.

Female
general managers got the biggest rise (12 per cent), while women in
manufacturing and purchasing fared the worst, with their pay actually falling
by 1 per cent.

A
separate survey by Personnel Today’s
sister publication Occupational Health
Review
found that female occupational health professionals earn 23 per cent
less than their male counterparts, with the problem particularly exaggerated in
OH nurse and health and safety positions.  

In
the survey’s sample, the median basic salary for a male employee was £37,000,
while for females the average was just £30,000.

HR feedback

Petra Cook, head of Policy at the Chartered
Management Institute

"It
is hard to justify [the gender pay gap] in HR where there is a strong focus on
the diversity agenda. Other occupations have struggled to attract females so
they have offered higher salaries. Perhaps the reverse is happening in HR and
now it needs to attract men into the role by offering higher salaries."

Frances Wright, group HR director, SHL
People Performance

"This
is very concerning – we should be setting an example. It needs urgent and
serious investigation. There is no reason why [gender pay levels] should be
different at all in HR. At senior level you have to be careful that you are
comparing like with like, as skills and jobs vary considerably. But at HR
manager level, the roles of specialists and generalists are very similar."

 Caroline
Slocock, chief executive,
Equal Opportunities Commission

"It’s
a sad irony that women in HR are not getting a fair deal. The proof of the
pudding is turning HR policies and commitment to diversity into real tangible
actions. While some women are choosing lower-paid and voluntary sectors, some
are still being penalised for taking time out of the labour market. Despite
awareness of the gender pay gap, organisations are still failing to grasp the
nettle."

By Michael Millar

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