February 27, 2018 / 10:57 AM / 6 months ago

Fresh disclosures expose UK banks' gender pay gulf

* Two more banks reveal stark gender pay gap

* Firms blame pay gap on lack of women in executive roles

* Deadline to report on gender pay is April

By Sinead Cruise

LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Standard Chartered and Virgin Money disclosed striking gender pay gaps on Tuesday, underlining an industry-wide chasm between male and female pay in Britain's financial sector.

Ahead of an April deadline to report on gender pay, Asia-focused StanChart reported a gap of 30 percent in Britain, while Virgin Money - the only major UK lender run by a woman - said its female staff earned on average 32.5 percent less per hour than its male workforce.

The two banks are the latest major financial institutions to reveal significant differences in average pay earned by male and female employees, which most firms have blamed on a dearth of high-flying female executives.

The pay gaps have drawn criticism from lawmakers and are likely to spur questions from investors in the upcoming season for shareholder meetings, with stock prices and future earnings potential strongly linked to efforts to draw a line under the sector's crisis-era image.

In its annual report, Virgin Money Chief Executive Jayne-Anne Ghadia said her bank had made progress against a target to have a 50:50 gender balanced workforce by 2020 and that female representation in senior management had improved to 29 percent by the end of 2017, up from 22 percent a year earlier.

But it conceded that men continued to dominate its executive committee and senior management team, accounting for 68 percent and 71 percent respectively.

Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland also said a lack of women in senior roles had skewed their average pay levels, after reporting similar gender pay gaps of 32.8 percent and 37 percent respectively on Friday.

With just HSBC still to release data on its gender pay gap, Barclays appears to have the biggest task among the major UK lenders to bring male and female pay closer together.

It said it paid women in its international division, which houses its investment bank, on average 48 percent of what men earned in fixed pay, while the mean gender pay gap for bonuses was 79 percent, due to fewer female employees in better paid, senior roles.

A spokeswoman for HSBC earlier told Reuters the bank would comply with the April deadline on disclosure but declined to give a timeline on publication. (Reporting By Sinead Cruise, additional reporting by Noor Hussain Editing by Tom Balmforth )

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