Female FTSE 100 executive directors paid 40% less than men, research shows

  • Female FTSE 100 executive directors are typically being paid £1.5 million ($2.1 million) each year, while their male counterparts are taking home £2.5 million on average.
  • Looking at overall average director pay, New Street Consulting Group found FTSE 100 female directors were typically taking home £237,000 year, 73% less than men on boards.

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LONDON — Women working as executive directors at U.K. FTSE 100 companies are being paid 40% less a year on average, according to research from a business management consultancy.

Female executive directors at a U.K. blue-chip company are typically being paid £1.5 million ($2.1 million) each year, while their male counterparts are taking home £2.5 million on average, according to research published Monday by New Street Consulting Group.

The business management consultancy's research also found that female non-executive directors working at FTSE 100 companies were typically being paid £104,800 a year, compared to £170,400 for men in those roles, representing a 38% pay gap.

Both executive and non-executive directors sit on a company's board, with the former responsible for the day-to-day running of a business and the latter focused on overseeing senior executives, as well as a company's key policymaking decisions.

When looking at overall average director pay, New Street Consulting Group found FTSE 100 female directors were typically taking home £237,000 year, 73% less than the £875,900 men on boards were being paid annually. The firm pointed out that this worked out far worse than the average pay gap of 15.5% for the broader U.K. jobs market, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

New Street largely attributed the overall pay gap on boards to the fact that 91% of female directors at FTSE 100 companies were holding non-executive, rather than executive director roles. Non-executive directors are typically paid much less than executive directors, it highlighted.

New Street also said its research suggested that female directors were not only losing out on higher-paying jobs on boards but also on the responsibility and authority that comes with holding an executive position.

And given that non-executive directors have little interaction with the wider business outside the boardroom, New Street also said it could be argued that women in these roles had less chance to be role models to other women other than fellow directors.

'End the old boys club'

Claire Carter, director at New Street Consulting Group, said that most companies want to "end the old boys club that exists at the top."

"The key to doing that will be ensuring that women have more executive responsibilities and are trained and prepared properly for taking on that responsibility," she said, adding that allocating women the "right assignments and projects is essential to that process."

New Street cited a 2021 report by the Financial Reporting Council, that showed having at least one woman on a board of directors could boost a company's share price by 10% over a year. This climbed to a 25% share price increase over five years for boards where a third of directors were women.

Data from the U.K. government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review found that women made up 36% of FTSE 100 board positions as of Jan. 2021. 

Carter said that the "catalyst for change lies with the boards themselves."

"It will be a case of their examining whether there are any barriers that are preventing females from reaching the very top at their organisation, and if there's anything they can do to help overcome these," she said.

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