The pay gap between male and female workers in the West Midlands is the highest among 12 UK regions.
And the financial services sector – encompassing businesses such as banks, accountancy firms and insurers – is the worst culprit nationally, according to new research.
An average female worker in the West Midlands would need around a 27 per cent wage hike – or £7,300 a year – to achieve parity with average male wages in the region.
That compares to a £8,800 (20 per cent) annual gender pay gap in London, according to the newly published annual ‘Women in Work Index’ by financial and professional services firm PwC.
The research shows that more than half (52 per cent) of women in the West Midlands work in lower-paying sectors such as wholesale and retail trade, and health services, while men in the region tend to work in higher-paid manufacturing jobs.
Even though the gender pay gap in the UK is narrowing, PwC’s research shows that, based on a continuation of historical trends, it could take until 2041 to close it.
The data suggests women are still more likely to work in sectors and occupations that are relatively lower paid, given the skills they require, with women making up more than 70 per cent of employees in health and social work and 60 per cent of education roles.
In the highest paying sectors of financial services (average weekly pay £949), mining and quarrying (average weekly pay £889) and electricity and gas (average weekly pay £834), women make up a much smaller proportion of the workplace.
Financial services is the sector with the largest gender pay gap at 34 per cent whereas public administration and support services have the lowest at 15 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.
Matthew Hammond, chairman of PwC in the Midlands, said: “We recognise that, within the financial services sector, there is a significant gap which is due in part to fewer women holding senior positions.
“At PwC, we have set gender targets, as well as providing a sponsorship programmes for high-performing females.
“We offer flexible working to all employees and provide a return-to-work programme to help people transitioning back into the workplace from a career break.”
Looking at the wider report, he added: “Despite a positive picture nationally that women in the UK have benefited from the improving economy, it’s a much bleaker picture in the West Midlands.
“Given the region’s strength in manufacturing and automotive industries, we are seeing men earning more in these sectors compared to women in lower-paid sectors such as retail and health services.
“By fully closing the gender pay gap, we could boost women’s earnings by £85 billion.
“Women in the West Midlands would need a £7,300 wage increase to be on a par with men, which is significantly more than the UK-wide average of £6,100 per woman per year.
“It’s not just about getting more women working but also about getting more of them into high quality jobs that offer career progression and flexibility.”
Written By: Tamlyn Jones