Debi O’Donovan: 17% gender pay gap for benefits professionals

This month, Employee Benefits has brought back the highly popular salary survey among reward and benefits professionals as well as human resources folk heavily involved in benefits.

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I want to flag up two notable results. Firstly, the average basic salary has risen from £48,436 a year in 2009 (when we last ran this survey) to an average of £52,780 now. That is a 9% rise in four years.

What is interesting is that the gender pay gap on average salary has dropped from £16,000 in 2009 to £8,844 this year. There could be a number of reasons for this, but the bottom line is that the gap is still a huge 17%.

We in reward should know better and be working hard to purge such discriminatory behaviour.

Across all workers, sadly, the pay gap appears to be widening again. But at least it is lower than in our profession (small comfort, I know). Last month we discovered, via Office for National Statistics data, that the gender pay gap has risen to 10%, up from 9.5% in 2012. Meanwhile, research by global management consultancy The Hay Group shows the gender pay gap across Europe has increased to 10%, up from 7% two years ago.

The second shocking statistic in our research is how little benefits professionals are contributing to their pensions. I am talking here about those in defined contribution schemes, where the average contribution is just 5% (with well over one-third of respondents contributing even less). Given that most receive employer contributions below 10%, there is clearly a big pensions gap too. Again, I would have expected people working in benefits to practise what they preach when it comes to saving enough for a pension.

Or maybe these people love their job in benefits so much (and why wouldn’t they?) that they will be happy to work well into their dotage? Either way, this should be an educated (if restricted by necessity) choice: work longer or save more.

So there are a few things to pop onto the new year’s resolution list for 2014: first for yourself, then for your workforces.

May you all have a 2014 filled with blessings.

Debi O’Donovan


Employee Benefits

Twitter: @DebiODonovan