Why male buyers earn more

23 April 2008
More news

24 April 2008

Senior men in procurement are now earning up to 25 per cent more than their female counterparts. Steve Bagshaw looks at the reasons

Results from the CIPS Croner Reward salary survey show a considerable pay gap between the sexes across the profession, and especially at director level.

The differential between men and women has fluctuated over the past few years, although figures in the latest survey are on the high side.

As the table makes clear, not only do male procurement directors on average out-earn their female counterparts by 25 per cent (£20,000 a year), but the male senior managers are also earning on average more than female directors.

So is procurement experience in line with the trends elsewhere in the economy?

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2007 median weekly earnings of full-time employees for women were 21 per cent less than those for men.

This figure is typical, according to Chris Benson, head of discrimination law at solicitors Leigh Day. "And in fact the biggest differences are around 40 per cent."

But how do these discrepancies occur? There is a range of reasons, he says, "including that men are more confident about asking for salary increases. And at senior levels they often have longer continuous service."

In his experience, when women take time off work to care for their families, it has an effect on their long-term remuneration. "It can be difficult to recover after five or six years away from the office."

He also says that, lower down the pay scale, things are more fixed. The table shows the more junior the position, the smaller the gap and at assistant manager level some women are on average earning more than men.

In Benson's view, the gender pay discrepancy has not decreased substantially over the past few years.

In procurement the gap has changed markedly but without an overall trend. As we reported a year ago, the last CIPS/Croner survey found it was "between 2 and 7 per cent, down from 14 per cent a year earlier [in the report covering 2005]".

"We have seen the gap widen in a couple of surveys [of other professions]," says Vivienne Copeland, client services director at Croner, "but not as much as we see in this one."

Official figures point to a reduction across the economy. According to the government's women and equality unit, the median pay gap between the sexes has reduced from 17.4 per cent in 1997 to 12.6 per cent in 2007.

However, the CIPS/Croner report's findings have some positive messages for female buyers. The fact that some female directors (14 per cent) replied to the survey (none responded last year) may reflect a positive trend for women in the top jobs.

Around 1,500 UK-based buyers took part in the study and their responses were analysed against a further 3,000 reports Croner has collected from surveys of other professions and sectors.

And they reflect a clear trend that procurement professionals can expect higher basic salaries than comparable roles elsewhere in the economy.

Heads of procurement can expect 17.6 per cent more than the national average for other functions and for senior managers the figure is 10.7 per cent.

In 1995 buyers at these levels could expect to receive 2.2 per cent and 6.8 per cent respectively below the then national average. And at that time all levels were paid below the annual average for other functions.

See Croner Reward for the full survey.

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