Gender pay gap widens in one of UK's most lucrative industries

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Gender gap and inequality in salary, pay vector concept. Graphic: Getty

The gender pay gap is widening for professionals working in one of the most lucrative areas of finance — fund management.

According to the report by PwC and the industry’s Diversity Project group, the average gender pay gap for the sector has increased by 0.8% to 31% since disclosure rules came into effect in 2017 that require UK companies with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap statistics.

It was the only sector out of the the worst performers to not narrow the gender pay gap. Banking, insurance, property, and travel industries still had huge gaps but managed to move to closing it slightly. Even more worryingly, the report also said there are signs of “resentment” from those working in the industry over diversity and inclusion, who dismiss it as a matter of political correctness.

READ MORE: Helena Morrissey: We need to focus on men to avoid diversity fatigue

Dame Helena Morrissey, chair of the group and head of personal investing at Legal & General Investment Management, said the the data was “both depressing and galvanising.” She added that “no amount of talk will convince this group – in fact, it is likely to be counterproductive,” in response to persuading colleagues to change their minds.

Speaking on Yahoo Finance UK’s Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded show, said she often gets asked the question: “What about the white, middle-class men — what are you doing about them?”

Morrissey — also the founder the 30% Club, which campaigns for more gender balance on company boards — said businesses should focus on “new tactics” to avoid diversity fatigue or resentment.

“I think that ... one of the problems has been that diversity has been for many years perceived to be part of a sort of political correctness and has been part of a sort of equality agenda — which I’m obviously a great believer in — but it’s not enough for many people in business,” said Morrissey.

“One of the problems about fixating on the gender issue — however unfinished it is — is that it also driven the sense that actually we women care more about women than we do about broader diversity,” she said.

Lianna Brinded speaks to Dame Helena Morrissey on Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded. Photo: Yahoo Finance

Morrissey added while many companies claim to have made great strides with their diversity and inclusion efforts, narrowing the gender pay gap remains a largely unfinished task.

The gender pay gap widened in favour of men at almost half of the UK’s biggest firms in 2018. The overall median pay gap figure in favour of men barely budged — from 9.7% in 2017 to 9.6% in 2018.

In December last year, the World Economic Forum said that it is going to take 108 years to close the overall gender gap and 202 years to bring about parity in the workplace.

READ MORE: It will take 108 years to close the global gender gap

WEF’s Global Gender Report 2018 warned that while strides had been made in gaining equality in pay and promotions, stagnation in the proportion of women in the workplace had offset reducing the gender gap – hindered further by a decline in women’s political representation and greater inequality in access to health and education.

Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded explores the stories of some of the most inspirational women across business, tech, and academia. Catch up on all the latest episodes here.