UK gender pay gap at lowest level since 2018

Initial analysis reveals the UK gender pay gap has reduced to 9.1% after record numbers of large employers reported their gender pay gaps ahead of the 4 April deadline.

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Figures reported in the Guardian show women earn 91p for every £1 a man earns and there are 833 companies with a zero gender pay gap.Yet four in five of the 10,830 employers reporting before the deadline continue to pay men more than women.The median gender pay gap is most acute in the public sector, particularly in education, and the construction, finance and insurance sectors, where the median pay gap is between 20-23%.

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Decades to close the gap fully

Analysis of 21 top financial services companies' gender pay figures by news agency Reuters shows that, while the gender pay gap has narrowed by two percentage points, some of Britain's top financial firms pay women 28.8% less on average than their male counterparts.At Goldman Sachs' international division in London, the mean pay gap between men and women rose to 54% in 2023 from 53.2% in 2022. This is the largest gap among the 21 major finance employers whose data was reviewed by Reuters.A spokesperson for the investment bank said, "Importantly, this gender pay gap report does not account for pay in similar role or tenure, but we know that we need to do more to increase representation of women at the senior-most levels of the firm."The accommodation and food, health and social work sectors reported relatively low gender pay disparities of around 1%, reflecting the vertical segregation of women’s work.

Pay transparency

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said working women deserve equal pay and it is still a big issue. “At current rates of progress, it will take more than 20 years to bring men and women’s pay into line,” he said. “That is not right. We cannot consign yet another generation of women to pay inequality. “It’s clear that just requiring companies to publish their gender pay gaps isn’t working. Companies must now be required to implement action plans to close their pay gaps.”Sabina Mehmood, pay equity leader at XpertHR, said pay transparency is a significant challenge to achieving gender pay parity. “There is a long way to go for UK companies to address gender pay disparities. Our 2023 Pay Equity and Transparency Study found the top barrier to achieving pay equity is the complexity of pay equity analysis."Technology and the right data can be a powerful partner when approaching this task, with digital tools available that automate the process and provide a stream of regular, ongoing insights. This makes it far easier for HR and business leaders to identify gaps that might exist within their organisation. However, collecting data and identifying gaps is only the first step. It is what senior leaders do with this information that is key – using it to make long-lasting, data-informed reforms that not only make the workplace fair, but also improve employee retention and attraction.”

Legislative changes

The latest gender pay gap data coincide with the introduction of new laws protecting women in the workplace, specifically around maternity leave and redundancy. The right to request flexible working from day one is also now enshrined in legislation. This recognises the role of flexibility around when and where people work in creating and sustaining inclusive, diverse and high-performing organisations.Research shows flexible approaches have clear business benefits and support employees. A CIPD study shows 6% of employees changed jobs last year specifically due to a lack of flexible options while 12% left their profession altogether due to a lack of flexibility within the sector.Responding to the new employment protections, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said: “The CIPD has been pleased to feed into the development of these legislative changes which will benefit millions of workers and enable them to better balance their work and home lives, and responsibilities. “At the same time, these changes will support employers’ efforts to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce by providing more flexibility and support to people with different needs due to ill health or caring responsibilities for example.”
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