Gender pay gap: the jury’s out

Last week (4 April) was the deadline for UK companies (excluding those in Northern Ireland) with more than 250 employees to report what they paid their male and female employees.

This, in turn, revealed their gender pay gap.

The results sparked lots of interest but, sadly, didn’t surprise. In summary, around 78% of companies pay men more than women.

I’ve been privy to much debate on this. With some saying the results are skewed as they don’t compare apples with apples. For example, in some sectors there are more men than women working in senior roles, so they would naturally be paid more than their female colleagues in junior roles.

The airline industry is a good case in point. Most of the pilots are men while most of the cabin crew are women. As a result, one of its big players, Ryanair, had one of the highest pay gaps at 71%.

What this reporting requirement has done, however, is once again put the spotlight on women in the workplace, and forced the business world to discuss and hopefully address.

Back in 2011, the former trade minister Lord Davies did something similar. He issued a report recommending that UK listed companies in the FTSE 100 should be aiming for a minimum of 25% female board member representation by the end of 2015. At the time the figure stood at 12.5%. In October 2015 he announced this voluntary target had been met and exceeded at 26%. So he moved the goal posts. The new target is now 33% of women board members at FTSE 350 firms by 2020.

Back to April 2018. There are still over 1,000 companies that have yet to report what they pay their male and female staff to the Government Equalities Office. When they do, more information will come to light and the debate will continue further.

For now, the jury is still out.

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Claire Dee

Director and founder of business consultancy Claire Dee Communications.

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