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Employment Solicitor Samantha Mangwana on Equal Pay Claims

By Principal Lawyer, Employment & Partnership

As fresh research again highlights women are still earning less than men in financial services. The research published by eFinancialCareers last week tells us only part of the story. They found a £15K pay difference in base pay, but as we know, there is a particular issue about pay in financial services. In the City, the bonus is not the icing on the cake – it’s the other way round. Base pay is often the smaller part of the total package. The real issue is about bonuses.

The last in-depth research on pay in financial services, which looked at bonuses, was a statutory inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2010. This found that women were paid up to a staggering 50-60% less than men in bonuses in comparable jobs.

There is a huge and glaring problem in the City. We have seen it time and again in cases. Female clients who come to us about other problems – for instance, when their career progression has become blocked, or they have been selected for redundancy ahead of male colleagues despite generating higher revenue. In the course of litigation, when we eventually get access to peer pay information, we see the extent of the problem. This sometimes runs into the millions over a couple of years.

There seems to be two key blockers to uncovering and addressing this problem:

1. TRANSPARENCY – there has long been a culture of pay secrecy, not just in the City (where some contracts still prevent disclosure of pay/bonus information), so as a woman, you simply do not know what your male peers are paid, or for what reasons. These cases are invariably settled confidentially, meaning that the information doesn’t become public through litigation.

2. CULTURE – this is an aggressively competitive environment, and as such it is not perceived as safe to rock the boat, by questioning or challenging pay decisions (particularly when this is kept secret to begin with). So the pay discrimination increases and widens over a number of years, unchecked. The women who consult us don’t come with a query about pay – but because of sex discrimination they have faced which is more overt – blocked for promotion, or selected for redundancy. They are often unaware of the big picture and the way they have been discriminated against for years in terms of pay. But these are women who have decided they are not going to put up with it any more. The big picture is the real story – across almost every investment bank in the city – of women being paid significantly less than men in bonuses.

If you feel like this has affected you please feel free to contact me or a member of our team on 0808 175 8105.