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A dearth of women in higher-paying jobs is driving a wide gender pay gap inside the British offices of two of Canada’s largest banks.

At Royal Bank of Canada’s U.K. operations, headquartered in London, the median hourly pay difference between men and women is 39 per cent, according to new disclosures. And the difference in bonuses is much wider, at 69 per cent. RBC has about 1,880 employees covered by this data.

The gulf is similarly large at Bank of Montreal’s U.K. global asset-management business, which has more than 610 employees, 62 per cent of whom are men. The median hourly pay gap there is 34 per cent, while the median difference in bonuses is 59 per cent.

RBC and BMO disclosed pay-gap statistics for their U.K. operations for the first time in response to British legislation that requires employers with more than 250 staff to publish certain gender-based metrics. Many companies have yet to report their figures as an April 5 deadline approaches. And the data do not encompass the banks’ operations in countries such as Canada and the U.S., where no comparable reporting requirements exist.

The gender pay-gap data do not compare individual men and women with the same or similar jobs. Rather, it contrasts hourly pay and bonuses for all men and women within the organization, regardless of their role or seniority.

As a result, the pay gap is heavily influenced by imbalances in the proportions of men and women working in higher- or lower-paying jobs. For some banks, the differences are stark. As of last April, 87 per cent of RBC’s U.K. employees in the top pay quartile were men. By contrast, women made up 57 per cent of the lowest-paid group.

“We recognize that this is an important conversation and the industry has a lot of work to do in closing the gender pay gap,” an RBC spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.

At BMO’s U.K. asset management subsidiary, 81 per cent of employees in the highest-earning quartile are men, while 58 per cent of those in the lowest-paid tranche are women.

“While we are confident that we have equal pay for equal work in our organization, we now know how much work needs to be done to improve our gender diversity,” said Richard Wilson, chief executive officer of BMO Global Asset Management, in a statement accompanying the company’s results.

Canadian banks have promised to improve women’s representation in senior roles. RBC gave all people managers in the U.K. training to address unconscious bias, and the bank has signed on to a British initiative that aims to ensure women occupy at least 25 per cent of senior roles by 2020. BMO Global Asset Management is a signatory to the “30% Club,” which seeks to ensure that women make up at least 30 per cent of boards and executive management teams, and the bank is establishing a global diversity and inclusion committee.

Yet, many financial institutions in the U.K. have dramatically wider gender pay gaps than other British employers. Among more than 4,400 companies that had reported data as of Tuesday, the median hourly pay gap was 9.9 per cent, according to an analysis by the Financial Times.

At Goldman Sachs International, the median hourly rate paid to women is 36 per cent lower than for men. At Bank of America’s international arm, the hourly rate was 21 per cent lower.

“The advancement of women into senior roles is a key priority for RBC in the U.K.,” RBC’s spokesperson said. “We are focused and committed to accelerating the development of women and we are strengthening our succession bench through a number of different initiatives.”

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says planned “proactive” federal pay equity legislation is the best way to close the gap between pay for men and women. Morneau spoke Wednesday in Ottawa a day after tabling the federal budget.

The Canadian Press

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Royal Bank of Canada
Royal Bank of Canada
Bank of Montreal
Bank of Montreal

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