Analysis by the BBC has revealed that four in 10 private companies have reported wider gender pay gaps for 2018 than the previous year.
Based on the median hourly pay gap measure, it found that employers in every sector pay men more on average. Companies reporting a wider pay gap this year include Kwik Fit, Npower and Virgin Atlantic.
With around six weeks to go until the deadline for the second round of gender pay gap reporting, only around a tenth of eligible employers have published their figures for 2018.
Of those that have reported so far, the median gender pay gap is 8.4 per cent, down slightly on last year’s figure of 9.7 per cent. Around three-quarters (74 per cent) of those that have reported so far have a pay gap that favours men, while 14 per cent have a gap that favours women.
Utilities company Npower blamed the increase in its pay gap from 13 per cent to 18 per cent on more female than male employees opting for a salary sacrifice scheme.
In 2017, car mechanics chain Kwik Fit had a negative gender pay gap of -15.2 per cent, meaning female employees were paid more. Its 2018 figures showed a 14 per cent median gender pay gap in favour of men, however. The company said this was due to a number of senior female employees leaving the company, meaning there were fewer in the upper reporting quartile.
Twelve percent of those that have published so far reported no pay gap, the BBC found. One of the worst performing sectors is financial services, where several banks including Lloyds Banking Group and RBS have reported median gender pay gaps in excess of 30 per cent. Construction also has a high median gender pay gap of around 26 per cent, according to the BBC’s figures.
Last week a report by Paygaps.com revealed that almost a third of organisations that have submitted their reports so far have published erroneous data. Mistakes included not having the report signed by someone at the required management level, and not including a link to a written report.
A spokesperson from the Government Equalities office said that while the pay gap was at the lowest level it ever has been, there is clearly more to be done:
Closing the gender pay gap is not a quick fix, and employers may take time to see their gap close as they implement long term action plans. It is important that they continue to work at this, and we are confident that the majority of businesses are now treating this as a priority
Martha McKinley, solicitor at the national law firm, Stephensons, said,
The pay imbalance between male and female workers is a deep-seated problem. The fact that the median pay gap seems to be widening in some companies is a disappointment, but it reflects the challenge that lies ahead in tackling the issue.
The introduction of this type of reporting however, makes the issue more transparent and forces employers to sit up, take notice and hopefully take action. It will be interesting to see how the land lies after the April 4th reporting deadline.
Steve Wainwright, Managing Director EMEA at Skillsoft, commented,
The causes of the gender pay gap are complex. The root cause of the disparity is often simply that there are a greater proportion of men than women in senior roles. This is a key challenge that many organisations need to address. Tapping into this talent requires changes across the board. This includes adapting behaviour, process and the culture within an organisation. By fostering greater senior leader accountability, by becoming less biased in decision-making processes and by changing their cultures to be more inclusive, companies have had some success. In reality, however, there is often a lot of talk and little action. Ultimately, the fact that a gender pay gap still exists is disappointing. Progress is being made – but there’s still work to be done.
Sarah Kaiser, Employee Experience, Diversity & Inclusion Lead, EMEIA at Fujitsu, commented,
This study shows that whilst great strides have been made in gender equality in the workplace, there’s still a significant amount left for us to overcome. Amid the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, mandatory gender pay reporting and a push for more women in senior positions, this is particularly evident in the 2019 workplace.
There are many steps that businesses can take to facilitate a diverse and inclusive work environment. One major factor preventing gender equality is the pipeline problem. If organisations are to address the low number of women in more senior-level positions the first step is to increase the pipeline of talent by driving recruitment of women at a graduate and apprentice level.
But it doesn’t stop there. It’s easy enough to put in place initiatives where half of a company’s graduates employed are women, but this shouldn’t be seen as a box-ticking exercise. Women need to be properly retained and included with an organisation, and the introduction of women’s networks, for instance, can be vital in ensuring women receive the proper support and advice they need. But it should be the responsibility of the senior team to take the lead by championing women within their organisation, and encouraging senior women to act as mentors and role models.
This study is a stark reminder that businesses need to step up and actively change if we are to conquer gender inequality in the workplace.