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What did we learn about the gender pay gap this year?

Well, firstly, that an awful lot of firms with 250+ employees, didn’t bother supplying their figures. And then that eight out of 10 British companies pay men more than women. The figures filed by thousands of businesses and public bodies at the deadline showed there has been negligible progress on closing the pay gap between 2017 and 2018, as the average gap narrowed 0.1 percentage point to 9.6%.

The data shows the difference between what is paid to men and women on average and filings are mandatory for companies with 250 or more employees. Although the figures don’t relate to equal pay for equal work, they shed light on structural inequalities in the workforce.

Slow progress is also reflected in the proportion of women getting top paid jobs in British businesses. In 2017 women made up 37% of the top quartile of earners, that figure inched ahead to 38% in 2018.

Helene Reardon Bond, gender pay gap consultant and former head of policy at the Government Equalities Office, said a big reduction in the gender pay gap of most organisations was unlikely.

“It will take a few years for the trends to appear and for meaningful action and good practice to kick in,” she said. Companies would attract women by setting out what they are doing to close their gap, “as we know that women are looking at the gender pay gap government viewing service before applying for roles”.

For each pound earned by the average man, here is how much the average woman earns in different industries …

Finance and insurance was one of the worst sectors for women to work in with an average gap of 22.9%, meaning a woman earned 77p for every £1 paid to a man. Average bonus pay in the financial sector also reflected a stark gap at 40%.

High street and investment banks were among companies in the sector with the worst gender pay gaps. Barclays posted a 42.9% gap across its UK entities. In a report accompanying its results the company said it would take time to redress what was a “historic imbalance”.

Lloyds reported a 32.8% gap across the group rising to 41.7% at Lloyds Bank plc. The bank said it was working to improve the gender pay and bonus gaps by increasing the proportion of women in senior roles.

Similarly HSBC posted a 30% median hourly gap at the largest of its entities, HSBC Bank plc and a bonus gap of 58%. However, higher gaps were reported at most of the bank’s other entities including HSBC Holdings with a gap of 41%, 10 percentage points higher than the figure for the previous year.

John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “Gender pay gap reporting has shone a light on the inequalities women experience, and it’s clear that the financial sector needs to take swift action to get its house in order.”

So far more than 330 financial services firms have signed up to the Women in Finance charter, introduced by the Treasury, and pledged to increase the proportion of women in senior management.

The pay gap also grew in the majority of industries, including health and social work, finance and insurance and the public sector.

The education sector was again responsible for some of the largest discrepancies between male and female employees. Many of the companies with the biggest gaps favouring men were multi-academy trusts and independent schools according to analysis.

Wigston Academies Trust, which runs two schools in Leicestershire, had one of the largest gender pay gaps of any public sector organisation, with women paid 69% less on average than men.

“Employers definitely recognise there is a strong risk to their reputation and brand if they get this wrong. Interestingly, many of the narratives say that companies don’t have an equal pay problem but don’t state whether they have conducted an equal pay audit,” Reardon Bond said.

However the figures are far from perfect. A number of companies that previously reported high pay gaps failed to submit figures by the deadline this year.

More than 800 companies also failed to file by the deadline last year, with some submitting figures more than a year after they were legally required to do so. However the Equalities and Human Rights Commission maintains there is 100% compliance with enforcement actions against companies.

 

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