macdonald and company
macdonald and company

Gender pay gap - Not just for International Women’s Day

Posting date: 12 March 2019
Peter  Moore our consultant managing the role

What could gender pay parity give your employer? 

International Women’s Day helps boost many issues that are relevant to modern women. One of these issues is the gender pay gap. The disparity between the earnings of men and women in the UK has been largest in the construction industry in recent years. However, the 2019 and 20th RICS and Macdonald & Company Salary Checker & Survey found that there is improvement being made, and at graduate and graduate/assistant level the gap has been completely closed. 

Here, we examine the numbers behind the current gender pay gap in the real estate and built environment sector, as found by the RICS and Macdonald & Company Rewards and Attitudes Survey. 

The gender pay gap: subconscious sexism? 

In the UK, women have fought hard for equal rights. It’s hard to believe that there was once a time when women could not vote, work in the legal profession or civil service, inherit and bequeath property on the same terms as men, or prosecute a spouse for rape. Yet all these equalities have been gained by women since 1918 – barely more than 100 years. 

The Equal Pay Act 1970 sought to remove discrimination in pay rates between men and women. It has long been illegal to pay men and women different rates for doing the same work. However, disparity in pay between the genders still exists. This is the gender pay gap – the measure of the difference between men and women’s average earnings in a company, industrial sector, or the whole market. 

In the UK, the gender pay gap is a little more than 18% (ONS). This can be explained because: 
  • More men tend to work more overtime hours, with an enhanced rate of pay 
  • More men are managers, senior managers and directors 
  • More women work in part-time jobs 

However, the gender pay gap may also be the product of subconscious bias. For example, senior executives and managers may falsely assume that women are less interested in promotion and responsibility at work. This reduces opportunity and leads to under-representation of women in senior jobsClosing the gender pay gap would provide evidence to women that the pursuit of career is justly rewarded. It would also provide proof that society has taken another step toward the goal of gender equality.  

Gender pay equality: progress is being made in the real estate and built environment 

Getting to parity in earnings between men and women was never going to be an easy task. Not only are there ingrained beliefs to be overcome, but also decades of inequality of opportunity to be equalised. However, there are signs that the real estate and built environment industry and related sectors are making real progress. 

For example, according to the findings of the 2019 RICS and Macdonald & Co. Rewards and Attitudes Survey, at the graduate and graduate/assistant level there is now no disparity between the earnings of men and women. In fact, women earn marginally more than men at the graduate/assistant level. 

The gender pay gap is minimal, too, in roles that include analyst, senior, associate, and senior planning manager. In these roles, the gender pay gap ranges from 2.22% to 4.70% in favour of men. 

Only in more senior roles are pay gaps still showing little sign of the big improvement desired. For example, in C-suite/executive director roles, men earn a median salary of £108,000 while women earn a median salary of just £74,000. The explanation, of course, is that there are few women with the experience to enter the boardroom – at present. Over time, with more women entering the sector, the number of women with the qualifications and experience to challenge for senior roles should increase. As it does, there will be more female representation at board level – and this will, in turn, make it more common for women to be employed in such roles. 

What effect might more women in the workplace have on a business? 

While it is difficult to quantify the effect hiring more women might have on a business, in a recent interview Christine Lagarde, Managing Director and Chair of the International Monetary Fund, gave her opinion as to the effect that employing more women and tackling sexism might have on some economies.  

IMF research suggests that banks would be resilient if there were more women present on their boards. Women bring new skills to the workplace and help to improve productivity. The IMF concludes that in economies in which there is little or no gender equality, the gain could be as much as 35% to the size of that economy. Lagarde says that the evidence points to gender empowerment providing “higher growth, a reduction in inequality, an improvement in the strength of the economy and a more diversified, export-focused country”. 

Could the conclusion of the IMF research be applied similarly to companies in which there is an under representation of women at managerial and executive level? 

Whether you are an employer or employee, we would love to hear your experiences of the difference that gender equality in the workplace has made to you. Drop one of our specialist sector recruitment team members a quick email or comment below. Let’s keep the conversation going, follow #beconnected on your preferred social channel and keep the conversation about the pay gap going - not only on International Women’s Day, but every day. 

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