In a 2017 report, Grant Thornton uncovers a gender pay gap that proves larger than those of the Big Four accounting firms. However, peeling back the pay grades and demographics, the gender pay gap is attributed not to an unequal pay structure, as most companies promise they pay women workers the similarly for the same work, but to a male-dominated senior management team.

In many companies, such as with Grant Thornton, the workforce is split almost equally by gender – 51% men and 49% women, with women dominating lower levels of the workforce and men higher levels of the workforce – 64.5% at senior manager, 64.5% at associate director, and 75.9% at director. Yet, carries a mean gender pay gap of 26.56% – KPMG at 22.3%, EY at 19.7%, Deloitte at 18.2%, and PwC at 13.7%.

Grant Thorton notes that the different pay  at the varying skill levels almost completely account for the gender pay gap.

A theme that continues to grace the reports of many forced or self-audited gender pay gap reports; perhaps there is something to this.




Grant Thorton follows the reported number with the following observation; “The problem we need to solve is much greater than an issue about pay alone — and we are confident that we pay men and women comparably for the same or similar work, or work of equal value,” the firm said.

“Our gender pay difference is a symptom of the overall gender gap that manifests itself as our people’s careers progress, and the fact that there are more men than women in senior positions,” it added.

While the numbers in any company may prove there is not an inherent problem with paying women equally for equal work, the systematic problem cannot be overlooked, that women are not promoted through the ranks.  Uncovering the reasons why this is the case, is are a messy gray scale of reasons and issues.

Targets have been set by Grant Thornton to reduce the pay gap to 18% to 20% by 2020 and increasing the percentage of female partners from 16% to 22% by 2020 and 25% by 2022.

“It’s about doing the right thing — for society, business and for our people,” said Stephanie Hasenbos-Case, leader of people and client experience at Grant Thornton UK.

While this is certainly a grand approach to the systematic issue, many companies must look into not only their ratios of men to women in management positions to close these gender pay gap issues, but also look into their hiring process. Companies must be just as intent on hiring strong male candidates with a career progression as well as strong female candidates with a career progression. Promoting women in the ranks, must not be for the sake of reported numbers alone and must be mutually beneficial based on skill in order to promote future progression for women in business.

If you were to look into your workforce, how are you specifically acquiring, training and promoting women in order to increase the percentage of women in senior positions? What does your gender pay gap look like? Does the gender pay gap exist due to unequal pay for equal work or does it mimic Grant Thorton’s  issue where women are not progressing through the ranks?

It may be hard to tell for many companies without established pay grades, historical progression training and reporting as well as applicant tracking systems. For assistance looking into the reasons for the gender pay gap, you can consult with The SchlottCo who specializes in business consulting with problems and issues ranging from Customer Engagement, Marketing, Finance and People Services.