Some of the U.K.'s largest money management firms improved their gender pay gap in 2020 compared with 2019, but managers say they are still struggling to increase the number of women in the senior roles that command the highest pay.
U.K.-based companies with at least 250 employees are required to publicly state on an annual basis the average hourly pay difference between male and female employees. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, firms were given an extension until October 2021 to publish their 2020/2021 figures.
But many of the largest money managers still managed to post their 2020 gender pay gap figures in the first quarter of 2021, with firms such as State Street Global Advisors Ltd., Fidelity International and Legal & General Investment Management (Holdings) Ltd. improving on last year's results, according to analysis of eight money managers' gender pay gap reports.
SSGA improved its mean gender pay gap to 27.3% in 2020 from 33.6% a year earlier. The firm's median pay gap improved to 10.2% from 20.6%.
Appointing more women in higher-level jobs and key roles that command higher pay helped to narrow the pay gap, said Paul Francisco, chief diversity officer at State Street Corp. in Boston. "These are positive indicators that we are heading in the right direction," he said of the firm's global and company-wide efforts.
But despite reducing the overall pay gap, the firm's money management unit in the U.K. missed the mark when it came to meeting its own target of 33% of women in senior vice-president positions or higher by the end of 2020, only achieving 30.1%.
Fidelity International said in its own gender pay gap report that it had similar struggles, even though it increased the share of women in leadership roles to 31% in 2020 compared with 24% in 2017.
Fidelity's mean gender pay gap fell to 18.3% in 2020 from 22.8% in 2019. The median gender pay gap fell to 23.1% in 2020 from 25.2% in 2019.
"We have achieved this progress through driving greater gender parity in recruiting, promoting and retaining women across the firm with the greatest focus on investment, technology and senior roles," Sarah Kaiser, head of employee experience at Fidelity, said in the report.
Fidelity intends to continue to work to close the gender pay gap by placing more focus on building a female talent pipeline at all levels, to help women move into leadership positions. By December 2023, the firm wants to have 35% female representation in senior leadership positions.
LGIM also improved its mean gender pay gap to 15.5% in 2020 from 21.3% in 2019. The firm's median gender pay gap improved to 18.8% in 2020 from 19.6% a year earlier. LGIM said in its report that the firm deliberately targeted its 2021 pay increase budget toward employees in lower-grade roles, which are more heavily female in composition.
Among managers that have failed to improve the gender pay gap year over year was AXA Investment Managers U.K. Ltd., which saw its mean pay gap widen to 28.5% from 28% a year ago. Its median pay gap increased to 27.1% from 24.9%.
"Whilst it is a disappointing setback, we refuse to let short-term hurdles stop us from reaching our long-term goal, and we will use this as an opportunity to further accelerate our efforts," said Amelie Watelet, chief transformation officer and global head of HR, communication and corporate responsibility, based in Paris.
A spokeswoman said that AXA IM launched a new program in February to improve women's progression into leadership roles. The program is aimed at challenges women face as young professionals that could curtail their future access to leadership positions.