Female chief executives buck the gender gap in pay

A salary survey of local authority chief executives reveals that
women are earning more than their men.

Women are earning on average £97,947 while men are earning
£93,538, according to the survey by the Municipal Year

There has also been a dramatic rise in the number of women
occupying the top jobs over the past decade, says another survey by
the Employers Organisation.

The proportion of female CEOs has shot up from 1.3 per cent in
1991 to 13.4 per cent today. One in five chief officers are now
women, along with nearly one in four of their deputies, in 1991,
only one in 10 chief officers were women. While the rate of
increase in the number of female CEOs is tailing off the number of
chief officers is rising more sharply, perhaps suggesting that in
time we will see the proportion of female CEOs pick up again.

Overall, senior management in local authorities in England and
Wales received an average 12 per cent pay rise in the year up to
April 2003, according to the Employers Organisation survey. The
nationally agreed settlement was 7.6 per cent; the rest is
explained by locally negotiated deals with local authorities. 

This comes at a time when average pay increases for non-senior
staff in local authorities in the same period was held well below 4
per cent.  

Three out of 10 chief executives now earn more than
£100,000 a year and 4 out of 10 chief officers earn in excess
of £75,000 a year.  The Municipal Year Book survey, which was
based on the responses of 161 CEOs, found considerable variation
depending on the type of local authority in question. An average
London authority salary worked out at £135,143 while his or
her equivalent in Northern Ireland could expect a shade under
£72,000. One of the respondents to the MYB survey received
£174,000 a year. 

In addition to pay, most CEO’s could expect to receive
substantial benefits, most prevalent being generous pension and
holiday entitlements. Subsidised cars and help with professional
association fees is not uncommon. 

A clear majority (63 per cent) of the of the MYB survey believed
that their remuneration should not be linked to the councils’
performance and only 7 per cent said that it absolutely should

Reasons cited for not linking pay to performance included: 

•  “It should be preferably independently assessed by
scale/weight/complexity of the role and local circumstances.” 

•  “Difficult to attract people to help turn around ‘poor’

•  “No, that [CPA] measures past performance, not
improvement. The hardest task is rescuing a poor performing
council. A CEO is accountable to the democratically elected council
not a traveling circus of auditors and fellow travelers.” 

Although most felt that their salary was probably half what it
would be if they worked in the private sector the financial reward
was the not the main reason for being in their present post. Half
of the respondents were committed to public service while the other
half remained open to a job in the private sector  

CEO average pay by type of council, September 2003: 

•  London boroughs: £140,453

•  Shire Counties: £133,631

•  Metropolitan districts:  £119,017

•  Unitaries: £108,163

•  England and Wales: £98,519

•  Shire districts: £81,655  

Year Book study


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