Some two decades after the phrase "glass ceiling" was coined, it seems as impenetrable as ever.
The Institute of Directors' (IoD) latest Directors Rewards survey, reveals that the gap between the pay of male and female directors – at 22 per cent – is even greater than the 17 per cent the Commission for Equality and Human Rights says is the case for the workforce as a whole.
Commenting on the survey, Miles Templeman, the director general of the IoD, said: "It is even more surprising that the pay gap has actually increased from 19 per cent last year and in some sectors it as high as 26 per cent – we would really like to know why this remains such an insoluble problem."
Released on the day of the Queens Speech, the political implications were not lost on the employers' organisation.
The IoD appealed to business to put its house in order: "Unless we can achieve equality of opportunity in the near future, we will inevitably face further regulation in this area. The only way to rebut this is for business to act quickly.
"It is unacceptable in this day and age that it appears that women in comparable positions do not receive the same rewards as male counterparts."
The IoD also claims that directors do much less well than the public perception, because attention has been focused on the biggest companies. A recent survey by accountants KPMG, for example, revealed that chief executives in that top echelon of industry saw their median total remuneration (pay, bonus and long-term incentives) increase by 16 per cent, an acceleration over last year's 9 per cent.
Mr Templeman countered: "The survey shows that the average pay increases received by UK directors is 3.5 per cent; and around a quarter of directors are working in excess of 55 hours a week and only around 20 per cent of directors in medium and large companies take their full holiday entitlement."