Gender pay gap in accountancy widens

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THE pay gap between men and women accountants working in business widened last year, writes Laura Salisbury.

The industry body for chartered accountants ICAEW said women over the age of 45 were most affected.

Male chartered accountants in business earn an average salary of £100,900 compared to women who earn an average of £63.900, a gap which has increased by 5.4% since 2014.

From next year businesses with over 250 employees, will be expected to report on gender pay differences or they will face a fine. ICAEW is urging directors to review how they measure diversity and inclusion to help correct the gender pay gap in the profession.

Andy Leach, president of Manchester Society of Chartered Accountants  said: “We need to face the hard truth that there has been desperately slow progress 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.

“You can’t ignore half of the working population and the opportunities it will bring to business. It is therefore more important than ever for businesses to reflect how they create work environments that inspire talented people, whether male or female and from whatever background, to become business leaders.

Women over 45 saw their salaries drop by £6.5k from last year, despite men in the same age category increasing by £4.2k. The pay gap is narrowest among chartered accountants under 30, who also enjoyed a slight pay rise from last year.

The gender gap persists when comparing men and women who work part-time. Female chartered accountants earn an average of £44.1k (with a bonus of £2.1k) with their male counterparts earning £75.8k (with a £8.8k bonus). Average earnings for part-time female chartered accountants fell by £4k from last year. They also fell for men by £9.8k.

Jean Ellis, a partner at Liverpool chartered accountancy firm DSG, said it was “very disappointing” to see the pay gap widening, and added: “Unfortunately, I don’t think that this is unique to the accountancy profession. The pay gap between men and women continues to exist across most industries and more can undoubtedly be done to address this.”

She said: “It’s still the case that childcare continues to be a significant issue in the lives of women employees. Only by ensuring that we have a truly family friendly work culture, as well as formal policies to promote this, can we ensure that women employees continue to progress throughout their careers.”

She said employers have a responsibility to ensure fairness in the workplace.

“There is definitely more that we, as employers, can do to address the pay gap specifically. Studies have shown that men tend to fare better than women when it comes to salary negotiations. Therefore, perhaps we can align our appraisal systems better to offer rewards based on merit, rather than on negotiation skills. We are currently introducing a new appraisal system at DSG, and this will be a key element for consideration.”