Men receive bonuses more than twice as large as those of their female counterparts, meaning they each earn nearly £150,000 more over their working lives.
The “shocking” disparity in bonuses compounds the fact that male salaries are nearly 25 per cent higher than those of females, said the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
Male managers earned average bonuses of £6,442 over the last 12 months, compared with a miserly £3,029 for women in equivalent roles, found the survey of 43,000 UK workers by salary specialist XpertHR, supported by the CMI.
Ann Francke, the CMI’s chief executive, said: “Equal pay has been around for 40 years as law but we are still not there. We are at the bottom of the tree, not the top – and that is quite shocking.”
The CMI said the average male manager now enjoys a salary of £38,169, compared with £29,667 for their female equivalents, despite the Equal Pay Act having come into force in 1970. The disparities mean that male managers stand to earn £141,500 more than women in bonuses over their careers.
The chasm in bonus payments actually widens the further women advance up the career ladder. Male directors pocketed average bonuses of £63,700 last year, 76 per cent higher than females’ £36,270.
The growing divergence on bonuses also holds true for salaries. While entry-level women are paid £989 more than men, by middle management they receive £1,760 less. At director level, the pay gap widens to £15,561: reflecting an average basic salary of £140,586 for men and £125,025 for women.
Ms Francke said: “If organisations don’t tap into and develop their female talent right through to the highest levels, they will miss out on growth, employee engagement, and more ethical management cultures. And that’s not good for business.”
Equally shocking, 52 per cent of male directors took home a bonus last year, compared with just 42 per cent of women.
Ms Francke said: “Despite genuine efforts to get more women on to boards, it’s disappointing to find that not only has progress stalled, but women are also losing ground at senior levels.”
The discrepancies in remuneration can be partly explained by the fact the financial services firms – which pay the biggest bonuses – have far more men in senior positions. While Ms Francke also described the IT industry as “very unequal” in its pay, she said that women in the manufacturing and public sectors fare better.
Mark Crail, XpertHR’s head of salary surveys, said: “While women are generally getting lower bonuses than men, especially at senior levels, they may be entering occupations where there is less of a culture of bonus payments.”
However, higher pay for men also appears to be the result of more nebulous factors. “Men are better at negotiating salaries and putting themselves forward for promotion,” Ms Francke said. While women stepping off the career ladder to have children is another issue, organisations often do not accommodate their shift in priorities by offering flexible working. As a result, Ms Francke said: “Women are often made to doubt their commitment when they return from maternity leave.”
In addition to urging the Government to increase flexible working initiatives, CMI demanded that “all organisations should set targets” for the percentage of women and men at junior, middle and senior levels – and publish progress against these.
Companies, such as the consumer goods giants Unilever and Coca-Cola have increased their proportion of women in senior leadership positions in recent years. Ms Francke said the report of Lord Davies, who recommended in 2011 that FTSE 100 companies fill 25 per cent of board roles with women by 2015, was a “step in the right direction” but its impact was diluted by its focus on non-executive positions and not on other management roles.