Female executives hoping to be paid as much as their male colleagues face a wait of almost 100 years, according to a damning report which shows that the pay gap between men and women at the top level of business has widened to £10,546.
A study conducted by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) – a professional body for managers – examined the salaries of 34,158 employees working in executive positions in UK organisations, from junior executives up to those at board level.
Between February 2010 and February 2011, male executives earned £42,441 on average, compared with £31,895 for women – an increase of £515 on last year's £10,031 pay gap.
The study follows a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission earlier this month that revealed huge disparity between men and women in employment and pay.
Although salaries for female executives are growing faster than men across the board, with men's pay increasing by 2.3 per cent in the past year compared with 2.8 per cent for women, CMI estimates that with such a slow rate of progress it will take until 2109 before female executive salaries reach the same level as men's.
CMI's director of policy and research Petra Wilton said: "This year's salary survey demonstrates, yet again, that businesses are contributing to the persistent gender pay gap and alienating top female employees by continuing to pay men and women unequally. This kind of bad management is damaging UK businesses and must be addressed."
There is good news, however, for women in junior executive positions, as the study shows women beginning to break down pay inequality earlier on in their careers. Female junior executives were paid on average £602 more in the same period than their male counterparts, averaging salaries of £21,969. The study's researchers say this is down to a range of factors, including the greater prevalence of women executives than in previous generations and a better understanding of equality legislation.
CMI have called on the Government to put more pressure on businesses to make formal and more transparent equal pay and opportunity policies, as opposed to previous proposals to force organisations to publish average salary differences and mandatory quotas to increase the number of female employees.
"It is the responsibility of every executive, organisation and the Government to help bring about change. Diversity shouldn't be seen as something that has to be accommodated, but something that must be celebrated," said Ms Wilton.
The gender gap
£10,546 The pay gap between male and female executives in 2011, a £515 rise from last year's figure.
2.3 per cent The average salary increase for male executives, compared to 2.8 per cent for their female counterparts.
98 The estimated number of years it will take female executives to reach parity with men at the current rate.
£13,793 The gender pay gap in Northern Ireland, the area with the highest disparity in the UK. Wales had the smallest gap, at just £2,441.