Admissions Blog

Financial Times: The MBA gender pay gap — readers’ stories

By 5th April 2018 April 7th, 2018 No Comments

Source: Financial Times

By Patricia Nilsson
Apr. 4, 2018.

From self-confidence to fear, how salary differences affect female graduates

Men at work: FT data found wide gender pay gaps for women with MBAs

At midnight on April 4, the deadline will close for UK companies with 250 or more employees to report their gender pay gaps. Highly qualified, well-paid women are unlikely to be exempt from inequity.

Last month, FT data revealed an MBA does little to help women close the gender pay gap. Female graduates from the world’s top-10 business schools ranked by the FT experience a pay gap of 79 per cent three years after their course ends. In many regions of the world, the premier business qualification even exaggerates gender pay difference.

After we published the data, female MBA graduates got in touch to share their experiences of gender pay differences.

Readers tell stories of unfairness. Some call for legislation to hold companies accountable, while others argue that women are responsible for speaking up and leading change. Here we publish three accounts from those who contacted us. The first two have requested we change their names to protect their identities.

“A few years back I was told, off the record, how big the salary gap was between me and my boss — about 25 per cent. He had no previous experience in the sector, nor any relevant education. I have now been in his role for nine months, and I have not had a pay increase.

When I [moved] into the more senior role, I asked the bank to explain why there was no increase in pay or change in title, and they said my role had not changed, although I was doing more and my responsibilities had expanded from regional to global.

Six months later, when more responsibilities were added to my role, I asked again. And then again when we received our bonuses. I still have not heard back.

Women are taking on expanded roles that were previously done by men, without any pay rise or promotion

There are several cases like this in other parts of the bank. Women are taking on expanded roles that were previously done by men, without any pay rise or promotion. 

I have not raised a grievance because I am trying to be collaborative. A colleague of mine has gone down the formal route after a similar scenario — being given more responsibility and not being paid for it — and she has been so burnt she might move industry, while I would like to stay in banking. 

In the end it depends how wealthy you are, because if you do speak up you get a black mark on your name. It does tarnish your reputation; you become a nuisance. 

That is why I am speaking off the record, because I still have a career in banking to pursue.

Even though the majority of women I know are breadwinners there is still a mindset that their salaries are supplementary

Even though the majority of women I know are breadwinners there is still a mindset that their salaries are supplementary. You get comments like: “Her husband works in X,” — indicating she does not need the money. 

People say women do not ask for money, but they do. I have been in enough meetings where women ask me for pay rises, and I have asked for many myself. The difference is that when a woman asks for a pay rise it is seen as arrogant. 

As a woman, you need to prove yourself before you do the job, while a man can be given a pay rise based on potential. There is a whole lot more accommodation of male aspirations.

I firmly believe that we need legislation. We need a pay gap audit. Because it is not in companies’ interest to sort out the pay gap. Paying women more will increase costs.

We need to be looking at qualifications. Do people in senior roles have the same qualifications and are we paying them the same? And if not, why not? If you have rules saying you have to have a certain per cent of women and a certain per cent of ethnic minorities otherwise we withhold your bonus or you cannot give dividends to your shareholders — guess what — then things will get done.”

“From very early on I have been aware that although the law says we are all equal, in reality we are not — especially not in large multinational corporations, no matter what bosses and HR directors say.

When I started my career I did not have to negotiate my salary. At that time, an MBA was exceptional and my first salary was higher than that of most people around me. Today anybody can get an MBA — it is no longer a unique qualification.

I do not think I have ever been paid less than the value I brought to the table, and definitely not less than my fellow colleagues.

I was determined to pay the price that a career in tech and management requires, meaning: invest 24/7 in my career and be extremely mobile, which is why I relocated with my job around 12 times.

The system is filled with imbalances that favour men, however we as women will go nowhere if we are fearful. We need to go for what is right and just, including taking our employers to court if they are not fair. I did that, and I won.

I had a new boss who was trying to make space for his friends to come join the company. He was trying to get rid of me through constructive dismissal and tried to deny me a bonus and pay rise I was entitled to. I was not willing to be let go to make space for someone else.

The system is filled with imbalances that favour men, however we as women will go nowhere if we are fearful

Emotionally it was very heavy, but I took the company to court, and I won. 

I was offered either to leave with a package, or to return to my old role with my pay rise and bonus. In the end the choice was simple, because these were people I could never work for again.

If I were a man, the whole issue would have been sorted under the table, somewhere at a pub in the City. It is how business is still done, it is part of the rules of the game that were set by men for men.

Many of us believe we cannot fight these battles, because of fear over losing our jobs. You might have a family depending on you, or you might fear you will not get another good job. But if you are fearful of losing a job, you will end up playing the game they want you to play — and I do not subscribe to that.

If a lot of women start making a fuss, speak out, go for what is right, take employers to court, we would start seeing some changes. 

We need regulation that says companies need to specify job scopes, roles, criteria for performance and salary bands — without talking about male or female. And you need someone to enforce it.

The pressure is not there. Yes, the press speaks about the gender pay gap but does that change the attitude of HR or the CEO or the chairman? When I have been on boards, we knew exactly whom we were paying more or less, but unless there is pressure on decision makers, nothing needs to change.”

“It is difficult for me to say whether I was paid less than my male colleagues, because I do not know the salaries of my peers. But I sat on committees where we discussed promotions and salary increases and I never saw conscious discrimination based on gender or race. 

The gender pay gap in our company, I think, is based on the different proportion of men and women in senior positions.

Having a family will have a big impact on women’s salaries, but not men’s salaries

Throughout my career I have seen men and women start at the same level, but once they have kids, women’s careers will slow down after maternity leave and part-time work. The man’s career, meanwhile, will continue to progress. 

Having a family will have a big impact on women’s salaries, but not men’s salaries. 

Most women who get to senior positions either do not have children or have a partner who takes on a bigger role in the childcare. 

The issue of the gender pay gap is bigger than businesses, there has to be a change in society — men have to become comfortable sharing childcare responsibilities.

Until men think it is OK for them to also slow down when they have children, to share the responsibility with their partners, nothing is going to change.”