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Pay gap driven by fewer women at top

People sitting at a table

The pay gap between men and women is caused, in large part, by fewer women than men in higher-paying jobs, according to a recent global analysis by leadership advisory firm Korn Ferry.

Globally, men are paid on average considerably more — 16.1 percent — than women, according to the Korn Ferry Gender Pay Index, an analysis of gender and pay for more than 12.3 million employees at 14,284 companies across the globe.

But when evaluating pay at the same job level, such as director, the gap fell to 5.3 percent globally. When considering the same level at the same company, the gap fell even further to 1.5 percent. The average pay gap amounted to just 0.5 percent when men’s and women’s pay at the same job level, at the same company and in the same function was analyzed.

Promoting women key

“The issue of male and female pay parity is very significant and real, and it is critical that it be addressed,” said Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner Maryam Morse. “The gap can be closed if organizations address pay parity across the organization and continue to strive to increase the percentage of women in the best-paying parts of the labor market, including the most senior roles and functions.”

The overall pay gap in the United States is 17.6 percent, but drops to 7 percent when evaluating pay of employees at the same level. The pay gap falls to 2.6 percent for positions at the same level in the same company and to less than 1 percent for men and women working at the same level, in the same company, in the same function.

“[Pay parity is] an issue that can be addressed if there is an ongoing effort to enable and encourage talented women to take on and thrive in challenging roles,” said Jane Edison Stevenson, Korn Ferry's global leader for CEO succession. “Our research shows women have the skills and competencies needed to ascend to the highest levels within organizations, and it should be a business imperative for companies to help them get there.”