Female leaders launch #MeTooPay campaign to end discrimination

Moya Greene, former Royal Mail chief executive.
Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/PA Images

More than 100 of the UK’s most successful female business leaders have launched a campaign to close the gender pay gap and end sex discrimination in pay practices.

The #MeTooPay campaign has been backed by businesswomen including GSK boss Emma Walmsley, former Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene and former TalkTalk chief executive Lady Dido Harding.

It was sparked by the direct sex discrimination case involving French bank BNP Paribas last month. In that case, Stacey Macken claimed she was paid significantly less than her male counterpart and was victimised further when she complained to her employer.

Over a five-year period her male colleague received about £237,000 in bonuses, while Macken was offered just £33,000

Greene told the BBC: “Pay discrimination is more widespread than we had thought, even though we have had laws on the books for 40 years. We want to keep this issue alive.

“Most companies have very good policies, but in many cases they are not properly enacted, nor are they always leading to good outcomes.”

The group will launch a website that will publicise the latest pay discrimination cases and share both good and bad pay policies. It will also ask for input from compensation experts to assess pay differences based on gender, as well as negotiation experts to help women achieve better pay deals.

An advert for the #MeTooPay campaign in the Financial Times yesterday read: “We wish to say to Stacey Macken and all other professional women whose compensation is tainted by discrimination, we are on your side.”

Meanwhile a report from PwC and the Diversity Project revealed how much the investment management sector is lagging behind when it comes to closing its gender pay gap.

Of the five sectors with the largest gender pay gaps in 2018, investment management is the only one to have not seen any improvement from 2017. Its average mean pay gap is now at 31%, topped only by the banking sector.

Investment management has the lowest percentage of high paid women, the report claims, with women making up just 23.2% of the upper quartile, compared to 24.9% in banking and 31.5% in insurance.

Forty per cent of investment management firms said they saw their gender pay gap widen because of an increase female recruitment within entry-level roles.

“There is a real danger that both existing staff and potential recruits are going to be deterred by the slow and even no progress within many parts of the industry,” the Time to get serious report says.

It claims many investment management firms delay publishing their gender pay gap figures until close to the deadline, while many provide little or no additional explanation about what the figures show. The report claims this “reinforces the notion that the industry isn’t placing a high enough priority on addressing the gender equality issues”.

It concludes that progress on diversity and inclusion will remain “painfully slow” until investment management firms recognise it as a business imperative and value it in the same way as investment strategy and client mandates. It said D&I should be included on every strategy day agenda, at every board meeting and in performance appraisals for all staff.

Other recommendations for addressing the gender pay gap in investment management included reinforcing accountability from the top and addressing reticence among middle managers; setting clear diversity objectives with plans to achieve them; using data and analytics to measure progress on D&I objectives and addressing poor behaviour.

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