By Liz Stephens
Women earn 80 per cent less than men in bonuses in some of the City's top companies an official inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found.
The inquiry, which was the first of its kind, revealed a "shocking disparity" in performance-related pay and also found that more than eight in 10 women start new jobs on a lower average salary than their male peers.
About a fifth of the sector's workforce were questioned and it was found that women earned an average bonus of £2,875 annually compared to £14,554 for men.
The commission is calling for an end to the "massive gender gap", which averages 47 per cent including bonuses between men and women working full time in similar roles in the financial sector.
However, the inquiry also found that fewer than half the companies questioned were making any efforts to address the pay gap and fewer than a quarter had undertaken an equal pay audit.
"The financial sector has the potential to play a central role in Britain's recovery. But it has to address this shocking disparity of rewards," said Trevor Phillips, EHRC chair.
Harriet Harman, minister for women and equality, said: "We cannot tackle discrimination if it is hidden, which is why I asked the commission to produce this report."
Ms Harman warned the financial services sector that "tough new measures" including gender pay reporting were on the way in the forthcoming equality bill.
John Cridland, deputy director of the CBI said: "No sector is immune from tackling the gender pay gap, and this report highlights that in parts of the financial services sector there is some further distance to go.
"But, as in many other areas of business, women applying for the top jobs need more flexibility with hours and childcare responsibilities."
A key factor in the high figures is believed to be the relatively young average age of financial sector workers - most are between 25 and 39, the age at which many women have children.
The EHRC is calling for pay audits and for companies to appoint a dedicated board member to highlight and tackle the issue.
The treasury select committee will be launching an inquiry into the role of women in the City in the autumn.