Hate to Say It, but Equal Pay Isn't Good Business; Closing the Gap: Investment Banker Julie Bower Took Legal Action after She Was Gven a [Pounds Sterling]25,000 Bonus Instead of the Hundreds of Thousands Scooped by Male Colleagues. A Tribunal Lashed "Sexism" at Schroder Securities and Awarded Her [Pounds Sterling]1.4 Million

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Byline: MERRYN SOMERSET WEBB

MORE figures out last week showed that women still aren't getting paidas much as men. Across the board the gap is still a much-too-high 17.2%.

The reasons for this have been much discussed and generally put down tomotherhoodthe fact we take career breaks and so advance more slowly, and that we takemore low-paid parttime jobs than men. But if this is the case it should also betrue that at the top of the tree in full-time professional jobsthe gap should be much smaller.

Not so. In fact, Office for National Statistics numbers show that for seniormanagement the gap is around 27% while Institute of Directors numbers show itat 22% in the boardroom. So what's going on? I don't much like the answer, buthere is what I think it is.

Women are worth less than men to employers (male or female) because they can'tbe counted on to stay in their job for as long. I'm not saying men don'tjob-hop all the time, but in general an employer knows that if he gets paidwell and treated nicely, a man is likely to stay. This doesn't work with aprofessional woman. It doesn't matter how well you treat her, she's probablygoing leave anyway.

She's going to have a baby so she'll be gone for at least six months, maybe ayear. Then she might come back. But then after another year she'll have anotherbaby, after which the odds of her coming back fall very sharply.

So why work so hard to keep her? The rational course (if not the legal one) isto pay any extra cash to the men on the team. …