The research finds a drastic drop in the amount of companies offering up their gender pay gap data, likely a result of the extension of the pay gap reporting.

According to new data by the CIPD, the number of employers who have reported data about their gender pay gap has drastically fallen by four-fifths since 2018. In 2018, 10,833 organisations published their numbers. However. this then fell to just 6,150 for 2019 and 2,440 for 2020.

This has been attributed to the suspension of gender pay gap reporting, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), companies should have still attempted to meet the deadline on the 4th April but can ultimately submit this data before the 4th October 2021 without repercussions.

Prior to this, it was mandatory for businesses with over 250 staff to release these figures by the 4th April, documenting figures for the previous year. In addition, companies were also encouraged to release an action plan which would address how the company intends to tackle the difference in pay.

Based on the limited figures offered, the CIPD found that the gender pay gap for 2020 was at 12.8 per cent – the same gap as in 2018. This equates to the median female employee earning 87 pence for every pound that the median male employee earned.

However, this is still an improvement on figures from 2019 where women earned just 86 pence, on average, for every £1 earned by a male employee.

Charles Cotton, senior reward and performance adviser at the CIPD, stressed the need for employers to share their gender pay gap data:

We are now into our fifth year of gender pay gap reporting and there has been markedly little change in the figures. This is to be expected, however, given improvements can’t be made overnight and some of the measures employers have taken to close their gender pay gap may well initially result in it widening.

However, we are more concerned by the sharp drop in employers who have so far chosen not to report their figures this year. While this is not that surprising given enforcement action has been delayed by six months, it does raise questions about the commitment of some employers to tackling their gender pay gap.

Reporting is an integral part of an organisation’s fairness strategy and, without it, employers lack a valuable tool to assess the fairness of how they recruit, manage, develop and reward their people. We would therefore urge those that have not yet filed their figures for 2020 to do so now, rather than waiting until October.

With the pandemic disproportionately affecting women financially, it’s even more of an imperative for employers to ensure gender pay reporting returns to the top of their agenda.

This was similarly echoed by Sheila Flavell, Chief Operating Officer of the FDM Group, who stated:

Despite the extension to this gender reporting break, there is nothing stopping business leaders reporting as usual in March, and employers who champion social change should still be encouraged to do so, even if their own gender reporting figures are by no means spotless.

After a tough year, now is not the time to turn our backs on equality. The pressures of unpaid care and home schooling has affected women over the past 12 months which has forced many to cut their hours or quit their jobs in the pandemic, therefore it’s vital that all employers analyse their pay gaps and take the necessary action, without delay.