By Lin Taylor
LONDON, March 1 (Openly) - Female directors at Britain's biggest financial services firms earn 66% less than their male counterparts on average, research showed on Monday, despite a rise in the number of women on company boards in recent years.
Women board members made 247,100 pounds ($349,720) on average per year while men earned 722,300 pounds, said the study by law firm Fox & Partners, which examined pay gaps in financial firms that are among the nation's 350 largest listed companies.
"Despite having greater levels of diversity at more junior levels, financial services firms are still struggling to reflect that shift at the senior executive level," said Catriona Watt, partner at Fox & Partners.
"In order to see long-term change, firms must be committed to taking steps that will lead to more women progressing through the ranks, getting into senior executive positions and closing the pay gap," she said in a statement.
The number of women on FTSE 350 company boards has jumped by 50% in the last five years, reaching 1,026 in 2020, according to the Hampton-Alexander Review, an independent body aiming to boost gender diversity on FTSE boards.
More than a third of board positions are now held by women too, the Review said last week, hitting a target that it had set for the end of 2020.
Yet disparities exist, even at the top. The Fox & Partners study said female directors in FTSE 350 financial services firms were mostly in non-executive roles, which meant they were paid less and had fewer responsibilities than men.
"These shocking figures prove the gender pay gap is thriving," said Felicia Willow, head of women's rights group the Fawcett Society, which was not involved with the report.
"There are not enough women in top roles and those who have made it are all too often paid less than men."
A year ago, Britain suspended the need for companies to report on the gender pay gap in their workforces due to the coronavirus pandemic, a step the government said would not derail attempts to pay men and women fairly.
Since 2017 the government has required employers with more than 250 employees to submit gender pay gap figures every year in a bid to reduce pay disparities.
The gap narrowed last year, with men earning 15.5% more than women on average, down from 17.4% in 2019, according to official data.
Companies will now have until Oct. 5 to report on pay gaps, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. ($1 = 0.7066 pounds)
(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories.)
Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.