Gender Pay Gap

Gender pay gap becomes a canyon in the accountancy sector

The gender pay gap has been a growing issue across most industries for a number of decades despite the activation of an Equal Pay Act which came into force in 1970. Various loopholes that have been taken advantage of along the way have prevented the legislation from having the revolutionary impact on balancing men and women’s wages that was intended. Females are still being paid around 10% less than men, on average and this issue is particularly rife within the accountancy sector.

Its a mans world for chartered accountants

According to new statistics released earlier this year, ICAEW accountants working in business have experienced a further widening of this male-friendly wage discrepancy. The gender pay gap has continued to expand and women over the age of 45 are the ones bearing the harshest brunt. The survey, done with support from Stott & May, showed that this gap – or should we say, canyon, has increased by a substantial 5.4% since 2014.

Figures demonstrated that male chartered accountants in business are earning an average salary of £100,900, while their female counterparts earn only £63,9000 on average. As if the gender pay gap itself wasn’t a big enough problem, shocking statistics also revealed that female accountants experienced a salary drop of £6,500 last year, while their male colleagues enjoyed an increase of more than £4,000.

Commercial executive director at ICAEW, Sharron Gunn, said:

“We need to face the hard truth that there has been desperately slow profess to correct the gender pay gap, given the Equal Pay Act was introduced 45 years ago. While it’s a national trend across all professions, we have a gender pay gap problem in accountancy too.

“With men more likely to hold more senior posts and chartered accountancy being a route into leading businesses, we must look again at how businesses are developing their pipeline of female leaders.”

Demographics been cited as one of the main factors catalysing this controversial pay gap, with these factors seemingly dictating what gets paid into the bank at the end of every month. According to the research, men are more likely to be working in the private sector, in senior roles and in regions where salaries tend to be higher. On the other hand, women are more likely to be employed in the public or not-for-profit sector, in part-time jobs, in regions where salaries are typically lower.

So what does the future hold for the growing pay gap?

Earlier this month, a new study issued by US University, Carnegie Mellon revealed that web giant, Google is guilty of favouring male users when targeting their job ads on third-party websites. The university developed its own AdFisher technology, which enabled researchers to generate 17,370 profiles, which were then used to visit various job sites. The study analysed 600,000 adverts and found that Google presented ads for career coaching for $200,000 executive jobs 1,852 times to male users but only 318 times to female job seekers.

It is true that Google uses unique user information such as browsing history and personal data when targeting its job ads. However, what researchers from Carnegie Mellon pointed out was that the virtual profiles they created to investigate the various third-party job sites were completely fresh and so had no preexisting data that could have influenced what Google showed each one. Computer science professor, Anupam Datta, who helped develop the innovative AdFisher technology suggested that these induing imply that gender discrimination is then engrained in the very process.

However, every cloud does have a silver lining and there is light at the end of the tunnel for those female workers who are currently suffering at the hands of the gender pay gap. Last week the UK government announced new measures that will require large companies to be transparent about whether they paying their male employees more and if so, by how much.

The new legal obligation is expected to come into force at the beginning of 2015 and will apply to businesses with 250 or more members of staff. The prime minister, David Cameron claims that the move “will cast sunlight on the discrepancies and create the pressure we need for change, driving women’s wages up” and seeks to establish a fair balance between male and female earnings across all sectors, including accounting.

Kara Copple
An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.