What's Up with the Gender Pay Gap at Burberry?

by Julie Graber | on 18 Jun 2020

So I’m making my way through a news article on the gender pay gap reported by Burberry for the UK (organizations with 250 or more employees are required to report annually on the pay differences for men and women in their organizations). There are some significant differences - there’s a 33% average pay gap for fixed hourly employees for example, and a 40% average difference in bonuses paid. The medians are smaller, which is what is generally folks use when talking about the pay gap: 10% difference in pay and a 23% difference in bonus pay to the benefit of men. 

Most companies explain their pay gap away by noting the lack of women in the upper ranks of the company, where the pay is higher (as if that's a defense). Here’s the problem I encountered with that argument in this case - over half of the positions in the top quartile of the company are held by women (even higher - 62% - if you look at just executive officers/direct reports according to a separate source). And women are 68% of the second highest quartile. It's not the skew between men at the top and women at the bottom that's the problem here - women hold a significant portion of the highest ranking jobs. The standard explanation doesn’t work.  

Burberry provides two reasons for the differences in pay and bonuses: the increase in the number of men being hired for upper level positions and the number of women in the lower quartiles, many doing part-time work (the figures are supposed to be for full-time employees or reported separately - haven’t figured that one out yet). It’s also interesting to note that according to Burberry, the gender pay gap would be 1% if they excluded the top 25% of the company. So hey, senior women - am guessing doesn’t give you warm, fuzzy feelings. 

I'm making some suppositions without actually numbers to review, but I’ve been looking at pay gap data for a long time and this one bothers me (actually, they all bother me, but this one in particular). I’m also concerned with the extreme differences with average salaries, which is not something to be ignored - it demonstrates how out of balance the company must be in terms of men in high paid-jobs and women in low-paid positions.

Might be a good reason to pass on that "iconic" Burberry plaid.