Female company directors earn one-fifth less than their male colleagues for doing the same job despite working longer hours, research revealed yesterday.
The inequities of corporate life, exposed in a survey by the Institute of Directors, lie behind an initiative from the London Business School that seeks to promote women in the workplace.
Backed by Lehman Brothers, the US investment bank, the new LBS Centre for Women in Business has called on more than 100 of the world's biggest companies to draw up a blueprint to get more women into top jobs. Senior executives from companies including BP, BskyB and BT attended the launch.
Laura Tyson, LBS's dean, said companies "struggled to identify, recruit and retain" half of their potential talent pool. While 50 per cent of graduates are female, this drops to 30 per cent of middle management and 15 per cent of senior management.
The IOD survey showed that female executives earn on average £60,000 a year, against their male counterparts' £74,028. Those employed by private companies and in the voluntary sector fare the worst, earning 25 per cent less then men in the same roles.
Overall, the pay gap between women and men has narrowed to 19 per cent from 25 per cent last year, but women work longer for their cash, the survey of almost 4,000 jobs from 1,000 organisations showed. Female managing directors in medium and large companies work 51.25 hours per week, compared with a man's 50-hour week, while those in larger companies work a 57-hour week on average, two hours more than their male colleagues.
Miles Templeman, the IOD's director general, said that the decrease was "hardly grounds for celebration. Even those who break through the glass ceiling and reach board level will find there is another roof over their heads".
The IOD's snapshot of Britain's boardrooms found that on average pay went up by 3.2 per cent in the past 12 months, with London-based directors taking home one third more than their counterparts in Northern Ireland.