Shattering the 'Glass Ceiling'

ICAEW / Robert Half Career Benchmarking Survey press release titled 'Shattering the glass ceiling' about the gender pay gap.

London, 03 March 2011 – There continues to be an earnings gap appearing between men and women according to new research released by recruiter Robert Half UK from the fifth annual ICAEW/Robert Half Career Benchmarking Survey. Overall, an average basic salary of £62,300 (median £55,000) for females is around 70% that of their male colleagues’ £89,500 (median £76,500). For those in the earlier stages of their career (under the age of 30), the earnings gap between females and males appears to be widening. In 2010 males under 30 earned an average of £8,000 more than their female counterparts and in 2009 the difference was an average of £2000.

This discrepancy reflects in part at least influences from other factors found in the same survey, such as female ACAs being more likely to work part-time at critical career development stages, for example 24% of female ACAs aged 30-45 are working part-time, compared with only 3% of their male colleagues, or that male ACAs are more likely to work within the private sector or outside the UK where higher salaries are on offer.

“These results are certainly concerning, and indicate that there are inconsistencies between men and women within the accountancy profession,” said Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half UK. “Robert Half supports emerging policies to make recruitment processes more transparent and offer women a seat at the decision-making table, especially in light of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. It is also important that women who are looking for an executive or C-level role have a plan in place to tackle any challenges they may encounter on their climb up the career ladder.”

Robert Half UK offers the following advice on how women can successfully manage their executive career path:

Create a Career Plan

Determining where you want to go and then developing a detailed career plan for getting there will allow you to make a difference in your organisation, while assisting you in laying the groundwork for your journey to the top. You’ll find it much easier to keep your eye on your ultimate career goals if you have outlined an effective plan on how to do this.

Consider What You Really Want

Initiate your planning process by taking time to think about what you want to accomplish and why. Ask yourself the difficult questions you need to consider, like are you prepared for the long hours and responsibility that comes with being a senior-level executive? Do you enjoy managing people and solving complex problems? And finally, is your family prepared to make the adjustments and sacrifices necessary so that you can pursue your leadership aspirations?

Develop and Build Your Skills Now

Skills development, especially for executive leaders, is an ongoing process and essential for women who have their eye on the C-suite. Developing the appropriate technical, managerial and interpersonal skills can lead to advancement opportunities as well as help prepare for the challenges that lay ahead. Thoroughly investigate what advanced education and training opportunities are available and take advantage of any tuition reimbursement programs offered.

Take Risks

Risk-taking in business requires leaving your comfort zone and tackling the problems that no one else wants to undertake.  One of the best ways to do this is to seek a variety of responsibilities or positions within your current organisation, even if some are lateral moves. Showing that you not only understand, but have been accountable, in part, for a company’s fiscal health, will help you build your skills, while exposing you to a variety of people and business situations.


People like to work with and support people they know, so don’t underestimate the power of traditional and online networking. Increasing your visibility by expanding your contacts, both internally and externally, can play a considerable role in your career advancement. To develop your network, consider joining professional organisations and attending conferences and seminars.