Women are only about half as likely to be granted options in company shares as men, suggests a newly released study.
Analysis by law firm Boodle Hatfield, using HMRC data from 2019-20 (the most recent year figures are available from), revealed that of 33,400 grants of tax-advantaged share options by gender 69% were to men and 31% were to women.
Similarly, an analysis of 14,260 different tax advantaged share options that have been exercised showed that women accounted for just 30% of option grants exercised and men 70%.
The figures helps confirm that the difference in remuneration between men and women at senior levels is likely to be even starker than the 10% gender pay gap reported for all jobs in the UK, said Boodle Hatfield. Data from the government’s gender pay gap reporting scheme shows that for every £1 earned by a man, women earned just 90p.
Charlie Hewlett, senior associate at Boodle Hatfield, said: “The gulf in share options granted to men and women shows there is clearly considerable work to be done in narrowing the gender remuneration gap.
Gender pay gap
“Share option schemes can be a powerful retention tool, especially for managers in high growth sectors. These figures are likely to reflect the ongoing underrepresentation of women in such roles.”
Check Warner, co-founder of Ada Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in overlooked founders and markets said: “The gender gap in share options eclipses the gap in basic pay between men and women. Women are missing out on crucial opportunities to build wealth and to build stakes in the businesses they work for. This is bad for our economy and anyone involved in the technology industry. It will lead to fewer female angel investors, fewer repeat female founders and fewer female VCs.”
Share option schemes typically enable employees to purchase shares at a pre-set price in the future. As well as being particularly popular among start-up or growth businesses, they are widely used among corporates and in the finance sector. Share options can form a major proportion of remuneration packages and play a crucial role in building wealth.
Boodle Hatfield said the figures suggested more could be done to make highly remunerated industry sectors more appealing and inclusive for women.
Warner added: “It’s paramount that the technology industry is inclusive to everyone, so that anyone has access to the wealth creation opportunities in this fast-growing sector.
“Businesses also benefit from diversity as diverse teams foster innovation and creativity. Inclusivity allows for more perspectives to be brought into the decision-making process.