Bridging the gender pay gap in the UK by 2025 would add as much as £150bn to the economy. Despite this, the World Economic Forum recently calculated that the global gender pay gap will take 170 years to close. CMI's last gender salary survey revealed that this stands at 23% in the UK, meaning women managers effectively work for free for nearly two hours each day.

Moves are underway to tackle the many underlying causes and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is at the forefront with the launch of the CMI Women campaign in November 2016. Addressing issues like inspiring emerging leaders and nurturing female talent is critical to closing the gender pay gap. So why is the gender pay gap such a complex and stubborn issue?

Putting yourself forward

CMI's 2016 National Management Salary Survey, shows that while women comprise 73% of the workforce in entry and junior level roles, female representation drops to 42% at the level of senior management, with just 32% of director level posts being held by women. Male managers are 40% more likely to be promoted than women. One of the reasons why women earn fewer promotions than men is because they don't ask. Rather than risk being branded aggressive and pushy, most women simply put up and shut up. Men are far more likely to put themselves forward. This results in the ‘missing middle' of women in management. As it stands the future doesn't currently look much better - as of today's forecasts we will still have 480,000 women missing from UK management in 2024.

Cultural bias

One excuse that regularly rears its head to explain unequal levels of pay is the ‘motherhood penalty' - mums taking a break from the office and returning part-time. This penalty affects not just mothers, but all women. The reasons for that are cultural. A good example of this is the expectation that women aged 30-40 already have, or will soon be having, children, and therefore shouldn't be put forward for a role involving extensive foreign travel for example. While such decisions might be taken in best faith, "it will help her balance her work and family life," it's a decision that the individual ought to take herself. These are the decisions that profoundly alter careers and achievements and contribute to the low numbers of women moving through the talent pipeline.

Changing the culture

Employers have a massive role to play in changing workplace culture, but they need to recognise it as a problem. They need to implement proactive sponsorship programmes for talented women, and engage men as agents of implementing this change. This can be achieved by appointing senior execs (most of which are already men) as advocates for women when promotions come up, and encourage women to put themselves forward.

But what can women do to help move this along? Have the nerve to do what men do naturally - showcase their achievements and ask for promotion. Women need to have the confidence to unlock their potential.

While the global gender pay gap may not close until 2186, we're working towards a time much closer in the future, when UK employers realise the value of gender balance at all levels in their organisations.

For more information on the CMI Women campaign and to get involved, visit: or to share your guidance on gender parity visit CMI's Blueprint for Balance: