Goldman pays female U.K. staff 56% less than male colleagues

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc. pays women in the U.K. an average of 56% less than male colleagues, another stark example of the entrenched gender imbalances in the richest corners of the global economy.

The gap widens to 72% for year-end discretionary bonuses, a spokesman for the Wall Street bank said Friday. The pay gap at Goldman Sachs and rival firms points to the high concentration of men in senior and lucrative positions within the industry. Women make up only about 10% to 12% of the firm’s partners, its highest rank, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the information is not disclosed publicly.

The figures show the imbalances that still exist at the biggest financial firms and keep a spotlight on Goldman Sachs, which has fewer women among its top executives than some top rivals. President David Solomon, who emerged from a small and all-male group to become frontrunner to succeed CEO Lloyd Blankfein this week, has taken a leading role in the firm’s efforts to improve diversity.

Goldman Sachs said in a memo to staff Thursday that it aims to have women make up half its workforce in the future, starting with an even split in its class of college graduates by 2021. The bank didn’t provide a timeline for achieving gender parity.

“We also need to hold ourselves accountable to providing more opportunities for women and diverse professionals to rise to the highest levels of our firm,” Blankfein and Solomon wrote in the memo.

The disparity in average U.K. pay at Goldman Sachs is narrower than at HSBC Holdings Plc, where women were paid an average 59% less than male employees. The national average pay gap is about 18%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

While Goldman Sachs is one of the earliest international lenders to disclose its gender pay data, the bank was not among the first to sign up to a U.K. government-backed charter committing financial services firms to fill more senior management positions with women. Today it joined 44 other companies, including UBS Group AG, in signing up. The Charter now covers more than 650,000 financial services employees in the U.K.

Goldman Sachs said in Thursday’s memo that it pays men and women equally, when comparing similar roles and performance.

“We are a meritocracy, and gender is not a factor in the way that we pay our people,” the bank said in a statement on its website Friday. “We pay women and men in the same way, using the same compensation criteria, including the nature of their role and their performance.”

The bank has tried several initiatives over the years to increase the number of women among its senior ranks. In 2003, it opened the city of London’s first on-site corporate childcare to help working parents. The firm also offers leadership training for aspiring female bankers and allocates time for them to spend with senior leaders for mentoring.

All companies with more than 250 U.K. employees have to disclose their gender pay gaps by April 4. As of Friday, only about 2,700 of an expected 9,000 companies had submitted data to the government website. Among large companies, HSBC, the U.K.’s biggest bank, has so far reported the highest mean gender pay gap. The privately-owned fashion retailer Phase Eight is higher still at 65%.

UBS last week reported an average gender pay gap of 31% for its U.K.-based employees, while BNP Paribas SA reported 38%.

The other large U.S.-based banks have yet to report, though in recent weeks they’ve voluntarily published information about their adjusted gender pay gaps — a less uniform audit that tries to measure whether their male and female employees are paid equally for equal work.

Bloomberg News
Compensation Equal pay Gender discrimination Financial regulations Goldman Sachs Women in Banking