Fewer women among the city's top earners

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly hampered progress on workplace equality, making women even less likely to become top earners in the City of London.

According to research from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), men are now more than four times more likely than women to be among the highest earners, with women making up just 19.4% of the top 1% of income earners, compared to 19.7% before the pandemic.

Grace Lordan, a professor at LSE, described the trend as a regression. “We're going backwards,” she said. Without substantial changes, she fears that the situation will remain unchanged in ten years.

The United Nations had warned during the pandemic that Covid-19 could reverse decades of progress on gender equality. Women are disproportionately represented in lower-paid jobs, single-parent households and unpaid domestic duties. This decline was clearly highlighted by a professional woman, interviewed by researchers from the University of Sussex, who felt forced into the traditional role of housewife against her will.

Since the end of the Covid crisis, concerns have persisted about slow progress in promoting women to senior positions. In 2021, Catherine Mann, member of the Bank of England's rate-setting committee, highlighted that women, who are more likely than men to work from home, risk being sidelined in a 'two-track employment' scenario, in which office workers receive more promotions .

A survey by MPs earlier this year found minimal progress has been made in tackling gender inequality in the traditionally male-dominated City of London. Despite recognizing widespread sexism in the financial sector, the government resisted implementing recommended measures to combat misogyny in the sector.

The gender pay gap in Britain will increase from 14.3% to 14.5% in 2022, surpassing the global average of 13.5%. PwC attributes this increase to the 'motherhood penalty' and inadequate support for menopausal women, both factors contributing to the reversal of progress in gender equality in Britain.

Anna Lane of Women in Banking and Finance argues that the situation calls for more radical solutions. “Isn't it time to introduce hard quotas for women in managerial, general manager and director positions? This is our moment to think boldly,” she asserted.

As the gender pay gap widens and women's representation among top earners declines, the call for decisive action to address these disparities becomes increasingly urgent. The post-pandemic era presents both challenges and opportunities for redefining workplace equality in Britain.

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