The latest RICS and Macdonald & Company Rewards and Attitudes Survey has found that the sectoral gender pay gap has closed during the past year, as more women are attracted to the industry and more attain senior positions. It also found that working in the real estate and built environment industry has many other appealing benefits for a better work/life balance.
Last year’s gender pay gap figures (April 2018) showed that the UK’s biggest companies paid men an average of 18.4% more than women. Additionally, the construction industry was one of the poorest for pay disparity, with women paid 36% less than me. RICS has been a leading voice in the drive to close the gender pay gap in the construction industry. The 2019 RICS and Macdonald & Company Rewards and Attitudes Survey suggests that good headway has been made, though more effort is required.
The gender pay gap between median salaries across the industry is now 18.6%, according to the results of 3,461 respondents to the survey vs last year’s survey which was significantly higher. However, this all-encompassing figure hides some very marked contrasts. In many areas the gender pay gap is below the national average published in April 2018, and in investment/corporate banking, women now earn approximately 13% more than their male counterparts. Other areas in which the pay gap is markedly less than the national average include:
- Architectural/design practice –10.86%
- Education – 6.66%
- Occupier/end user – 7.80%
- Investor/funds – 14.33%
- Residential/block management – 14.29%
- Central/local government – 12.50%
In the construction sector itself, tremendous headway is being made. The results of the survey have found that the gender pay gap has narrowed to 20.43%. This narrowing is most clear at younger age groups. For example, in London, female respondents to the survey working in construction in London are paid an average base salary of £43,000, whereas their male counterparts are paid less at £37,500. As the age of respondents increases, the disparity reverses in favour of men:
- At age range 36 to 45, men and women both receive an average an average base salary of £70,000
- In the age range of 46 to 55, men are paid an average base salary of £83,000, while women receive just £64,000 salary on average
A similar pattern emerges when examining the data at the industry wide level. The older the age group, the wider the pay disparity between men and women, as shown in the table above.
These statistics indicate the pay gap is closing as awareness of the issue improves and as the number of females in the industry increases. More women are now entering the industry at earlier ages, and the pay gap is markedly less the younger the age group.
While it might be expected that this pattern would follow through to the 56 to 65 age group and then beyond, the sharp narrowing at this age could be explained by greater numbers of more senior males leaving the industry and taking retirement benefits after they have attained the age of 55 and above.
Turning to bonuses paid, there is evidence that average bonuses paid to men are greater than those paid to women. The bonus summary above shows that bonuses are larger within every age group.
The survey also asked respondents to note other benefits for which they are eligible. The results indicate that the industry is becoming more accommodative to the work/life balance needs of talented female workers. Such benefits include:
- Working from home (46% eligible to receive)
- Flexible hours (35%) Family healthcare (22%)
- Employer pension (74%) Critical illness/life cover (37%)
In addition, almost half of respondents (46%) feel that their employer has a great workplace culture as opposed to less than a quarter who think their workplace culture is poor. Similarly, 46% believe that their employer is dedicated to diversity, while only 21% feel that their employer is not.
Speaking of these survey results, Peter Moore, CEO of Macdonald & Co., said:
“Closing the gender pay gap is not an issue that can be solved overnight. However, headway is being made across most sectors of our industry. As more women are encouraged into the real estate and built environment realm, I expect the pay gap to close further. I would also expect the pay gap to close higher up the age groupings as greater numbers of women progress in the industry.
“It is worrying, however, that companies appear to be paying larger bonuses to men than to women. Could this be because bonus payments do not have to be declared in pay gap data? Perhaps men rate themselves more highly than women? If this disparity continues, it cannot be good for the industry.
“On the whole, the work that many employers have been doing to close the gender pay gap, along with the enthusiasm of RICS in promoting a more open and diverse environment, is paying dividends. Policies such as flexible working and working from home are key strategies to encourage women into the sector, and so, too, is better training and education. This is a battle not only for the industry, but also for government to fight.
“Other strategies that are helping to close the divide include positive discrimination at the hiring stage, tracking gender balance, partnering with educators, and greater support for women who return from maternity leave.
“As the UK’s premier recruitment specialist in the real estate and built environment, we applaud all such initiatives.”
Barry Cullen, RICS Diversity and Inclusion Director, adds:
“The latest Rewards and Attitudes Survey certainly demonstrates that progress is being made, but there is still a long way to go, and we’re disappointed in the difference between male and female bonus figures across the board. RICS has promoted and pursued over the last five years, continued, consistent action from industry to engage and attract a wider more diverse pool of talent.
“We have been working to ensure that there is greater awareness of surveying as an aspirational career path, and that there is an improvement in the number of women coming into surveying. Already this year we are seeing 25% of all newly qualified professionals and almost a third of new enrolments are women.
“Whilst this is positive, there is still a need to reflect on the departure of women mid-career, the encouraging signs would seem to be that workplace culture is changing to meet the needs of a modern workforce, requiring greater flexibility. This should be further supported by firms of all sizes to ensure that women are retained and are able to progress, only by more women accessing senior leadership roles will the gender pay gap be reduced even further.”