The gender pay gap at the top of London tech

The gender pay gap at the top of London tech

The gender pay gap at the top of London tech

The London tech community has often felt a bit friendlier and more accessible than Silicon Valley. We’re European! We’re liberal! We’re doing an OK job, right?

Well, the results from a 2018 survey of 76 operational leaders working in tech companies, startups and scale-ups from the COO Stories community in London, is something of a wakeup call. Our survey showed a gender pay gap in top-level ops positions in London tech, consistent with the national average. Controlling for company size, stage and years of experience, our survey shows that female COOs in tech are consistently underpaid for doing the same job, at the same level, in the same industry, in the same city, as men, with an average pay gap of over 12%.

The survey was to members of the COO Stories tech community, where every member is an Ops leader at a fast-growth startup (titles like COO/ VP Ops/ Director of Ops).

Started in 2015, COO Stories was initially an invitation-only email list and forum for Ops leaders in London’s tech community to ask questions and advice of industry peers. It’s now home to 250 COOs and ops leaders, run by Kelsey Traher, COO at Marvel and Ben Gateley, COO at CharlieHR, with regular events, community values, sponsors, and an international chapter in Berlin.

Community action

On one level it’s perhaps unsurprising that the survey revealed a gender pay gap not much better than the national average – across the UK, men earned 18.4% more than women in April 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). But on the other hand, COOs working in London tech startups is a such a tightly controlled group – and they are all already the most senior operational role in their organisations.

Gender pay disparity usually speaks to structural inequality where, for example, a company may be more likely to employ women in lower paid positions, and men in higher paid positions. Notwithstanding the differences in what the COO role may mean across different companies, everyone who responded to our survey is already the most senior ops person in their respective business, and in the same type of company (tech startups and scaleups), in the same industry, the same city, and with the same number of years’ experience behind them in a senior role.

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