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US lot closer to ending boardroom gender pay gap than the UK

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Closing the gap: IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is one of the most senior women in tech, an industry where women actually have an edge when it comes to executive pay. Photo: Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images

The US is close to eliminating the gender pay gap for senior executives, according to new research.

Executive pay benchmarking service the Pay Index, which is owned by headhunters Leathwaite, said on Monday that the gender pay gap at executive level in the US has fallen from 7.9% to 2% over the last six months. It means the US is close to achieving parity on gender when it comes to senior executive pay.

Globally, the report said the gender pay gap for senior execs halved over the last six months, falling from 17.1% to 8.7%. The results are based on a survey of over 7,700 executives earning over $100,000 (£76,810) a year.

While the UK saw a bigger drop in its exec pay gap in absolute terms, the gap between what men and women get paid in the boardroom remains stubbornly high. In the six months to March it fell from 21.5% to 12.2%.

New rules that came into force in April force UK companies that employ more than 250 people to publish their gender pay gap. Legislation introduced in New York and California in 2017 prohibits employers from asking prospective employers about their salary history, in a bid to create fairer market for offers.

James Rust, the founder and managing director of The Pay Index, said: “These laws have put gender pay firmly under the spotlight.

“However, there is still much work to be done to create parity, but the speed and direction of the trend is a very positive sign. We’re hopeful that in a further six months, the size of the gap we’re seeing in the UK will gravitate much more closely to those figures in the US.”

The Pay Index also published numbers for specific roles and industries. Globally, male CEOs still receive an average of 30.5% than their female counterparts. It is the biggest gender pay gap in the boardroom.

Interestingly, the Pay Index said that the gender pay gap for tech roles in the boardroom in fact favours women. Globally female technology execs receive an average of 9.2% more than men. High-profile female tech execs include Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s VP for EMEA Nicola Mendelsohn, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.

While the US is making progress narrowing the gender pay gap in the board room, the Pew Research Centre earlier this year found women earn 18% less than men on average across the US and the gap has been largely unchanged for the last decade.