Gender Pay Gap – where are we two years’ on?

By Anthony Wolny | 11th April 2019 | 8 min read

What has been reported about the gender pay gap?

It has been reported this week that almost eight in 10 business within the UK still pay their male employees more than females. Despite gender pay reporting becoming compulsory for all companies, charities and public sector organisations with over 250 employees in 2017, the UK’s pay gap remained largely unchanged in 2018. There has been virtually no change in the UK’s gender pay gap between the first and second year of reporting.

Why is change taking so long?

The answer to this can be somewhat complex – for example, in many businesses, there is an underlying imbalance between the number of males and females in occupational silos, and their experience and levels of seniority. It is not always the case that men and women simply being paid differently for exactly the same role.

However, it could also be argued that many employers could have made better progress by now. With the first report on gender pay not required until 2018, some businesses took advantage of utilising a full year to collect and report on the data, and then were surprised at the scale of the problem that their reports ultimately revealed.

Many employers would argue that 12 months is not long enough to change company cultures which might be traditionally male-focused, or to tackle what is often a deep-rooted problem with gender pay.

Which sectors are the worst for high gender pay gaps?

Research has shown that the construction industry currently has the widest gender pay gap, which stands at 24.2%. Other serial offenders include Gas, Electricity and Water at 12.3%, Finance at 24.1%, Information and Communication at 18.0%, and Public Safety at 12.8%.

Are there compelling reasons behind the gender pay gap?

  • There are more men in senior roles than women – in many business environments, a higher proportion of men still take the majority of senior roles.
  • Caring responsibilities and part-time work are shared equally – sadly, the gender pay gap increases after childbirth, and women often taking the brunt of caring for relatives in later life.
  • Women often choose to work in low-paid roles – whether its flexibility, fitting work around childcare or needing to work shifts, women dominate in these roles and industries.
  • Women are paid less than men for the same role – as we have seen, it doesn’t happen as often as people believe, but some businesses have been caught out for paying women less than men in exactly the same role.

Tips on building a gender pay action plan:

  • Anonymise CV’s and application forms – removing any gender bias from the very beginning of the recruitment process should allow you to embrace unbiased hiring processes and procedures.
  • Adopt transparent recruitment and promotion policies – ensuring that all policies and procedures relating to recruitment and career progression are fair, and inclusive of both males and females will help to cull any negative gender connotations.
  • Clearly advertisie all jobs that are open to flexible working – most businesses now operate a uniform flexibility policy across all roles, but even if you only offer flexible working in certain positions, making this clear will help to project your company as one that is inclusive of women.

In essence, specific, time-bound action plans can do a lot more than just identify the barriers holding women back in the workplace. They can also help to create an environment where female employees can flourish, as well as demonstrate to employees, customers and shareholders a commitment to improving working practices.