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Women in the West Midlands consistently in Top Five most unsatisfied with pay - report

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Habiba Khatoon
6 November 2023
Habiba Khatoon

More than half of female professionals based in the West Midlands feel underpaid at work – 10 per cent more than male professionals in the region, and eight per cent more than female professionals based in London, according to the findings of a new survey.

Almost a quarter of women in the region have reported receiving zero pay increase in the past 12 months, despite having negotiated for higher pay – compared to less than a fifth of men.

The new findings are part of a recent survey into Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace by specialist recruitment company Robert Walters.

The survey highlights how female professionals in white-collar jobs – especially those based in the West Midlands – are bearing the brunt of tightening company purses and inflation-related cuts.

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Habiba Khatoon, director of Robert Walters West Midlands, said: “We are all too aware of the regional pay gap between the regions and London, but our research attests to the fact that there is a gendered regional pay gap.

“With recent news of local council bankruptcies, as well as companies cutting back due to the cost of living and unstable economy – it is even more important that we are made aware of the professionals who are most overlooked in terms of pay.”

Last month, Birmingham City Council was forced to issue a Section 114 notice – effectively declaring itself bankrupt – bought about by a £760m unpaid equal pay claims.

The claim was brought by 174 of the council’s former employees, where all but four were women.

According to Robert Walters research, only seven per cent of female managers with five years of experience based in the West Midlands earn above £55K – whilst 52 per cent of male managers in London and 24 per cent of male managers in the West Midlands (with the same years of experience behind them) earn over this amount.

The findings also reveal that almost a quarter of West Midlands-based female professionals haven’t received a raise in the last 12 months – 10 per cent more than male professionals in the region.

Te survey suggests that pay increases are front of mind for female professionals in the region – with 44 per cent stating that they have negotiated for higher pay in the past year, in the face of increasing inflation and rising cost of living.

However nearly a quarter (22 per cent) do not receive any form of pay rise post negotiation.

Out of the West Midlands-based professionals who negotiated for a higher salary – 10 per cent more male (26 per cent) than female (16 per cent) professionals received the full amount that they had negotiated for.

A further third of West Midlands-based female professionals (30 per cent) receive less than half of what they asked for.

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Habiba added: “Even when taking matters into their own hands and attempting to negotiate for a higher salary, less than a fifth of women in the West Midlands seem to be receiving the pay rise that they believe they deserve.

"This is even more worrying considering less than half are negotiating in the first place – so those who are actually receiving a rise are a minority of a minority.

"There is a real concern that female workers in the West Midlands could be falling behind in terms of pay.”


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Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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