Gender Pay Gap: why firms aren’t managing to narrow it

Ruth Thomas, Industry Principal, Curo Compensation

Provisional data released last week by the UK Office for National Statistics show that the pay gap for full-time employees rose to 8.9% in 2019 from 8.6% the year before whilst among all employees the figures fell from 17.8% in 2018 to 17.3% in 2019.

So another year of minor statistical variance. Even compared to data from a decade ago (in 2009 the pay gap for full-time employees was 12.2% and the figure for all employees’ 22.2%) progress is slow. The ONS study is based on the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) and is a sample of 1% of employees in the UK.

Illustration of a man and a woman sitting on money

These numbers are different from the compulsory figures reported by employers under the UK Gender Pay Gap Reporting Legislation, which are also publically accessible via the Government’s Gender Pay Gap Viewing Service. The second year of reporting under the legislative regime showed a similar picture of minor changes.

Essentially the pace of change on wage disparities between men and women is slow due to the complex set causes including cultural bias, societal assumptions and a lack of progress in workplace design that contribute to the gender pay gap.

Compounding the issue is a lack of commitment to action from employers. Research published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found only one in five employers had published a plan outlining how they were going to tackle their gender pay gap. Organisations must go beyond simply publishing data and commit to transparent action plans if they are to genuinely narrow their gender pay gap.

For further commentary on the UK Gender Pay Gap Legislation see Curo’s Industry Principal Ruth Thomas’ article in Personnel Today.

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