Olympic Inequality: Gap Between Boss and Minimum Wage Pay like a Sprint vs a Marathon

A worker on the National Living Wage (NLW) would need to work for 410 years to earn just one year’s average salary of one of the UK’s top bosses. That’s a similar difference to the length between the Olympic marathon (42,195m) and a 100m sprint (a difference of 422 times).

With the 2016 Olympics about to begin in Rio, the Equality Trust has examined how inequality in the UK can be measured through Olympic events. It found that:

  • Average FTSE 100 CEO pay is 410 times that of a National Living Wage worker. That’s like a CEO running a 100m sprint, while a minimum wage worker has to run a marathon (see our infographic here!)
  • In the same time as Mo Farah’s 3,000m British record (7 minutes 32.62 seconds)
  1. Someone on NLW earns 20p
  2. Someone on the average wage earns 40p
  3. A FTSE100 CEO is paid £80.37
  4. The richest 1,000 people in the UK saw their wealth increase by over £408,000, last year
  • In the time it takes Usain Bolt to run 100m (9.58 seconds world record):
  1. Someone on NLW earns less than half a penny
  2. Someone on the average wage earns a penny
  3. A FTSE100 CEO is paid £1.70
  4. The richest 1,000 people in the UK saw their wealth increase by £8,636 last year
  • The wealth of Britain’s richest 1,000 people in £20 notes would fill 15 Olympic swimming pools.
  • If you stacked the average FTSE100 CEO’s annual pay in £20 notes it would be over 30m tall – 5 times the height of the pole vault record (6.16m). If you did the same for the average worker, you could step over the stack: it’d be just 15cm tall.
  • If everyone were paid in pound coins, at the end of one day the average FTSE100 CEO would need an Olympic weightlifter to carry the 146kg (£15,342 in coins). The daily pay of a worker on the National Living Wage would weigh about the same as one bronze medal (£37.43 in pound coins weighs 355g).

John Hood, Acting Director of the Equality Trust, said:

“Anyone who remembers the London Olympics will also recall how proud we felt when Britain won medal after medal. The whole event seemed to highlight what is best about this country – determination, a commitment to hard work, and togetherness.

“But as the recent EU referendum has shown, while we can pull together for a common purpose, we are also a deeply divided country.

“Extreme inequality and a yawning gap between the richest and the rest of us has been allowed to go unchecked, weakening our society and economy. While a small number of people are given a head start, millions more are left stuck in the starting blocks, unable to get on.

“If we want the strong and cohesive country the British people deserve, this has to change. Our athletes will undoubtedly do us all proud over in Rio, it’s time our politicians did the same by committing to real measures to tackle inequality.”

Notes to editors

  • The Equality Trust is a charity which campaigns to improve quality of life in the UK through the reduction of economic inequality.
  • The annual salary on the National Living Wage is calculated as £7.20 X 7.5hr day X 253 days = £13,662.
  • The annual salary of the average full time worker is £27,645. Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2015. http://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/bulletins/annualsurveyofhoursandearnings/2015provisionalresults
  • Average FTSE100 CEO pay is based on the High Pay Centre’s calculation of £5.6m. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/13/executive-pay-up-increase-thinktank-analysis
  • The area of an Olympic swimming pool is 2,500m³. The dimensions of a £20 note are 149x80x0.113mm, which is a cubic area of 1346.96mm³ or 0.000001346960m³. The number of £20 notes that could fit in one swimming pool is 1,856,031,360. The value of those notes would be £37,120,627,190. The richest 1,000 people in Britain had wealth of £575.634bn in 2015, which in £20 notes would fill 15.5 Olympic swimming pools. (Alternatively, the wealth of the richest 100 people would fill 8.7 pools; the wealth of the richest 10 people would fill 2.7 pools.)
  • Weight of daily pay in coins assumes ‘daily pay’ is annual salary spread equally over 365 days. Bronze medal for London 2012 weighed 357g.