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Salaries drop for experienced female accountants as gender pay gap widens

The gender pay gap for ICAEW Chartered Accountants working in business has widened, with women over 45 seeing the biggest drop in salaries from last year, according to the latest salary survey from ICAEW and Stott & May.

With large businesses expected to report on gender pay differences next year, ICAEW is urging company directors to review how they measure diversity and inclusion to help correct the gender pay gap in accountancy.

  • While the gender pay gap is at a historic low (ONS: 9.4%), the pay gap is widening among ICAEW Chartered Accountants working in business. Male chartered accountants in business earn an average salary of £100.9k compared to females who earn an average of £63.9k, a gap which has increased by 5.4% since 2014 
  • Women over 45 saw their salaries drop by £6.5k from last year, despite men in the same age category increasing by £4.2k. The pay gap is narrowest among chartered accountants under 30, who also enjoyed a slight pay rise from last year.
  • The gender pay gap remains partly due to demographics and working situations of men and women. Men are more likely to work in senior roles, the private sector and in regions where salaries are typically higher. Women are more likely to work part-time and in public or not-for-profit organisations where salaries are typically lower.*
  • But the gender gap persists when comparing men and women who work part-time. Female chartered accountants earn an average of £44.1k (with a bonus of £2.1k) with their male counterparts earning £75.8k (with a £8.8k bonus). Average earnings for part-time female chartered accountants fell by £4k from last year. They also fell for men by £9.8k. 
  • New measures will be introduced in 12 months’ time, where organisations of more than 250 employees will have to report gender pay differences annually or face a fine.

ICAEW Commercial Executive Director, Sharron Gunn, said: “We need to face the hard truth that there has been desperately slow progress to correct the gender pay gap, given the Equal Pay Act was introduced 45 years ago. While it’s a national trend across all professions, we have a gender pay gap problem in accountancy too. 

“With men more likely to hold more senior posts and chartered accountancy being a route into leading businesses, we must look again at how businesses are developing their pipeline of female leaders. Businesses are changing. They need to be more collaborative and diverse as they operate in an ever-interconnected world.  Leaders must work with people with different values, perhaps even in different time zones. You can’t ignore half of the working population and the opportunities it will bring to business. It is therefore more important than ever for businesses to reflect how they create work environments that inspire talented people, whether male or female and from whatever background, to become business leaders.” 

She added: “Look beyond the numbers. You can’t just evaluate success or failure on how many women are recruited into Board or executive positions. We must also ask how businesses measure the success of their leaders by how well they support diversity and inclusion.” Stephen Stott, CEO of executive search firm Stott and May, believes that to combat gender pay differences amongst chartered accountants, businesses need to do more to facilitate women’s professional development. 

“To help achieve equality, companies must ensure they offer a working culture that supports career growth for women and men, and this means being more flexible to new ways of working. Companies must consider childcare responsibilities, which disproportionately affects women, and how they can support all employees with work-life balance. To attract the best talent, organisations need to offer equal pay from the outset, and have a system in place where women can flourish and grow professionally. We must resolve the gender pay imbalance.” 

Overall average salaries for ICAEW Chartered Accountants in business have remained fairly static over the past four years, in keeping with sluggish global wage growth. This year international salaries fell as a result of a turbulent global economy and exchange rates. 

More information can be found at icaewjobs.com