A survey of more than 100 HR directors found 58% had come across real life situations of pay inequality in the workplace. While 76% firmly believed discrepancies between the salaries of male and female workers doing the same job still exists 40 years after the Equal Pay Act 1970.
The How fair is Britain report revealed the mean gender pay gap for women and men working full time was 16.4%, rising to 27% for women aged 40.
But the survey revealed almost one third – or 30% of HR bosses – believed the biggest reason for pay inequality was the fact that it is generally men who are in top positions and determine salaries.
Twenty-seven per cent said it was a result of taking time out to have children, 26% cited a ‘culture of secrecy’ while 17% believe a ‘lack of assertiveness’ among female workers is to blame.
The survey also found that the biggest problem facing women in the workplace – 64% – was juggling a career and motherhood, followed by the ‘glass ceiling (14%) long hours (12 per cent) and lack of promotion (10 per cent).
Jim Lister, head of employment at Pannone, said: "It’s always been a surprise to me that equal pay claims have largely been limited to the public sector and I envisage claims in the private sector will be a big theme in the next few years."
The Pannone study follows a report earlier this week from the Equality and Human Rights Commission which revealed that efforts to close the pay gap between men and women are "grinding to a halt."