NHS Lothian’s male employees are paid an average of 13 per cent more than their female colleagues, new figures revealed today, leading to fresh demands to tackle the gender pay gap.
While almost four in every five health staff are women, men continue to dominate boardroom and senior management roles.
And as women make up the majority of the lower-paid nursing staff, it means the average pay gap is even more stark.
The health board has succeeded in appointing women to high-profile roles, including finance director Susan Goldsmith, nurse director Melanie Hornett and board vice chair Shulah Allan, and today insisted it has policies in place to ensure equal rights.
But with the fairer sex making up just nine of 26 board members, politicians and campaigners have called for a renewed drive to achieve parity.
The new report reveals that, while NHS Lothian has 18,005 female staff and 5191 men, there are 73 men in highly paid senior management roles, compared to 62 women.
Among the lower paid staff, women actually earn around seven per cent more, but among doctors, consultants and other senior medical staff, their pay lags behind by almost six per cent.
Emily Thomson, co-director of the Women in Scotland’s Research Centre, said she was not surprised by the figures and believes a lack of role models and opportunities for flexible working in senior posts could lie behind the disparity.
She said: “In many sectors in which women dominate the workforce, including education, women are under-represented at the highest levels and particularly at board level.
“It is a problem for public sector organisations as they are not fully representative of their workforces, or their service users. Diversity in the boardroom leads to improved decision making as a range of perspectives are brought to the table.”
Ms Thomson said that evidence suggested that organisations with a greater gender balance at boardroom level outperformed male-dominated boards and that she feared NHS Lothian could be losing out on skills and talent of female employees.
She added: “Closing the representation and earnings gap between men and women is not just an issue of fairness, but also makes good business sense.”
Lothians Labour MSP Sarah Boyack said that more work was required to correct the wider disparity at senior levels of the organisation.
She said: “Much more effort needs to be made to ensure women are represented at the top table. Whether it’s in senior management positions or on the health board, we need women involved in the big decisions that affect our health and shape services we rely on.”
Lynne Khindria, NHS Lothian’s associate director of workforce development, said that the health board ran a number of initiatives to promote gender parity.
She added: “NHS Lothian takes equality and diversity very seriously and implements a number of policies to ensure equal opportunities in everything we do. It is, however, not uncommon to see more females than males in certain roles and vice versa, and these figures are affected by many influencing factors.
“These can include certain types of jobs that males and females aspire to do, careers, education in schools and colleges and historical and cultural barriers which can discourage people of a certain gender from joining or progressing in a profession.”
Women who are top earners
WHILE there may be an overall discrepancy in pay and positions at NHS Lothian, they do employ a number of women to senior roles – some who are paid very high salaries.
Dr Alison McCallum is the Director of Public Health and Health Policy, a role with an annual salary of between £125,000 and £130,000.
The Director of Finance for NHS Lothian is Susan Goldsmith, who has a salary between £135,000 and £140,000. And the highly respected Nursing Director Melanie Hornett earns an annual salary of between £155,000 and £160,000.