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UK Middle Manager Pay Rises: Let's Talk About Diversity

Posted on January 18, 2016 at 12:10 PM

Back in the heady days of 2011 when we all spent a lot of time in the UK talking about gender diversity, there was just the very occasional mention of something rather important: the role of (mostly male and probably mostly white) middle managers in UK plc when it comes to the promotion of diversity.

Today, five years later, we learn that when it comes to middle management, the UK ranks highly in Europe in terms of its base-salary offering, moving past Denmark, Belgium and Norway in this year's ranking in the Global 50 Remuneration Report by Willis Towers Watson.

The UK has risen in the European pay league in the last 12 months and base salaries for professional staff at both middle manager and entry level are now ranked 4th and 12th respectively, out of the top 15 European economies, compared to 7th and 13th in 2014.


Base salaries for this group are, however, just over £40,000 per annum. This is well behind Switzerland which sits on top of the leader board with £111,576 a year.


When it comes to entry-level professional employees, the UK remains towards the bottom of the salary grid, despite moving above France this year.

Switzerland again sets a high bar, with entry-level pay at more than twice what an equivalent UK worker could expect to earn (£64,569 per annum compared to £25,953 per annum). The UK also continues to lag significantly behind the rest of the top five (Denmark, Luxembourg, Germany and Norway) for these entry-level salaries.

"The increase in UK pay, compared to Western European pay, has been a while coming and is welcome news. We know from our research that base pay is pivotal for keeping employees engaged at work. However base-salary levels are only part of the story, specifically at entry level, so employers should look at the overall perceived value of their offer" says Tom Hellier, UK Practice Lead, Rewards at Willis Towers Watson.

But here's another thought for overall better employee engagement and better business, embracing diversity - gender, ethnicity and race. Make middle managers more accountable for their knowledge and awareness of the talent they manage - and require then to demonstrate what exactly they have done every few months for the promotion of diversity.

Why not link it to their pay ? The Financial Times recently carried a piece by a female journalist headlined Stop Skirting Around The Lack Of Senior Women In Business.

Sarah Gordon ended her piece with: "It is now standard practice to tie chiefs’ pay to measures of shareholder return. If boards genuinely believe that diversity should be improved, then they should cut the bonuses of chiefs or HR directors who do not deliver measurable improvements. Otherwise, in 30 years’ time, our daughters will still be sitting in a room full of men — and the corporate world will be the poorer for it." (my emphasis)

I would suggest the block comes at middle management level, where it's 'every man for himself' all too often. Maybe it's time to think harder about pay and middle management - with the benefit of this report - and with the overall objectives of the business in mind.

Pay is surely a critical ingredient of better corporate governance, and its scrutiny should aim to foster a coherent and accountable chain of responsibility.

Source: Willis Towers Watson Global 50 report

London - January 18, 2016


Categories: Diversity, Accountability, Pay