The lack of women in positions of power is a main cause of the gender pay gap and gives lie to the notion that the UK is a meritocracy, a leading equality charity has announced, along with new analytics on the state of diversity.
The Fawcett Society’s 2022 Sex and Power Index reveals a “glacial” pace of change in most sectors of the UK economy and shows that women are outnumbered by men 2:1 in positions of power.
Women of colour, the data shows, are under-represented at the highest levels and are missing altogether from senior roles such as supreme court justices, metro Mayors, police and crime commissioners and FTSE 100 chief executives.
However, finds the research, women’s representation has improved in a minority of key areas with the Scottish Parliament, London Assembly, combined authorities and local economic partnerships (LEPs) having made solid progress towards equality since the last Sex and Power Index – a biennial report – was published in 2020.
The sporting sector, meanwhile, has seen a progressive decline in the number of female sport governing body chairs (15% in 2022 from 20% in 2020) and CEOs (19% in 2022 from 21% in 2020).
Jemima Olchawski, CEO, the Fawcett Society said men continued to dominate senior roles. This was “not only bad for the women who miss out on opportunities to thrive, but it’s bad for us all, as we miss out on women’s talent, skills and perspectives.
“What is most alarming about today’s data is that it shows an unacceptable lack of women of colour in senior positions. Put simply, this gives the lie to the idea that we live in a meritocracy or a society of equal opportunity. Structures, culture and often individuals continue to create barriers that prevent women and women of colour in particular rising to the top. And we’re all losing out as a result.”
Too few women in positions of power was one of the causes of the gender pay gap, the report stated, and the complete lack of women of colour in top jobs in many sectors also fed the ethnicity pay gap. It was essential that ministers introduced intersectional ethnicity pay gap reporting and tackled inequalities in our society that hold back women of colour, it said.
Dianne Greyson, founder of the #EthnicityPayGap Campaign said the introduction of an ethnicity pay gap reporting regime would be a “key step in addressing structural barriers that stop women from ethnic backgrounds progressing into positions of power.
“Our recent research shows that black women experience pay disparity based on their race and are significantly held back in their career progression because of structural racism. It also highlights the considerable mental and physical pressures placed upon black women in the workplace. We want to see companies eradicate the cultural and systemic practices that impact women from an ethnic background.”
The research found that women remained at just 8% of FTSE 100 CEOs, and none were women of colour.
Other findings included:
- Leadership: Women held 37.7% of non-executive directorships, but just 13.7% of executive directorships.
- Education: Women accounted for 65% of secondary school teachers, but 40% of headteachers. Just 6% of those headteachers were women from ethnic minority backgrounds.
- Media: The proportion of women editing national newspapers stood at 42%, while the number of female political editors remained at 12%.
- Local government: Women made up 35% of councillors across England, 22% of local council leaders, and 26% of police and crime commissioners. There were now greater numbers of women on combined authority boards, 37%, and women made up 52% of London Assembly members.
- Civil Service: Of the 16 government departments run by permanent secretaries, six were run by women and none were run by women of colour. Women’s representation among the Civil Service Board stood at 45% women.
- The law: Women made up 27% of Court of Appeal judges and 30% of High Court judges. There were just two female Supreme Court Justices and no women of colour.
- Sport: On individual sport bodies, only three CEOs, out of 22 organisations, were women (14%). In 2020 women made up 21% of chief executives.
- Health: The number of women chairing NHS trusts was getting closer to parity at 41% and 45% of trusts had a female chief executive. Amanda Prichard has become the first female NHS England chief executive.
- Civil society: Women represented one in three chief executives of the largest 100 charities by income at 36%. Analysis of 22 professional bodies found that women made up 24% of chief executives and 48% of chairs.
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