Can you wait 58 years to earn the same as your male colleagues?

Just as Sarah Brown is launching her new initiative, Women: Inspiration and Enterprise, we get news of more evidence of discrepancies in women’s pay.

The good news is that according to CMI research, this year our salaries rose by 2.8% compared to 2.3% for men. The bad news is that we are still way behind (especially if you are a female project professional in South Korea). CMI’s research shows that it will take 58 years before we have pay parity for male and female managers in comparable jobs. That’s pretty depressing for us who have already been working for years, and even more depressing for young women entering the workforce now. They will be nearing retirement before their salaries even out with their male counterparts.

The management community isn’t helping itself:  Institute of Directors spokesman Alistair Tebbit said today that it was a “mistake” to extend the right to request flexible working to parents of children under 18 from 2011. “Flexible working can bring benefits to some businesses, but why formalise in law a process that takes place already when there is no evidence that extending the right would lead to more flexible working opportunities?” he said. “This is particularly unwise when we know that creating another formal employment right would add to the already excessive amount of administration businesses have to conduct to comply with regulations.”

Oh dear. More legislation for HR departments to deal with. Perhaps if requesting flexible working was a legal right, more companies would provide the option. It was clear from attending the Remote Workers Awards earlier this month that while many companies are embracing the benefits of flexible working, many aren’t.

Why is flexible working important? Because it gives women (and men) the chance to mould their working day to fit around the rest of their lives. Granted, it won’t work for all companies, or all project managers, especially those who need to be on a building site or with clients at certain times. But a lot of project management can be done from anywhere. It’s not that difficult to make it work.

Flexibility provides choices, and choices can mean the possibility of a better paid job – which will support moving towards pay parity for women. Maybe we can get it before 58 years is up…

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