Gender pay gap reporting: the statistics so far

 In sfa, updates

What does the data that has already been published tell us, and how can employers use this information? Hannah Netherton reports

With just over a week to go until the 4 April deadline, nearly 4,000 employers have published their gender pay gap data, although the government says it expects another 5,000 companies to report their data in the next few weeks.

From the data released so far, a consistent trend across almost all sectors is that there is a significant mean gap in hourly pay as well as bonus pay. Most employers attribute this to the prevalence of men in senior roles. This is particularly relevant in certain industries such as financial services. For example, the data as at 12 March 2018 revealed that, on average, men working in financial services firms received double the bonuses received by women in the same businesses.

CMS has calculated the interquartile range (the mid-spread, or middle 50 per cent) for each of the sector categories identified for reporting purposes by the government, for the mean ordinary pay gap and mean bonus pay gap. This range excludes the quarter of respondents with the biggest gender pay gaps and the quarter of respondents with the smallest gender pay gaps, to give a sense of where the ‘pack’ is for a given sector.

The below charts use all data as at 12 March 2018 on the government viewing service, with the vertical line in each case showing the range across the group assessed, and the square marking the median point among them.

Source: government viewing service; CMS analysis; data correct as at 12 March 2018

[Note: only sectors with more than 50 companies responding are included above; companies linked with multiple sectors have been included in each identified sector]

What does the data show?

It is clear from the graphs that, in general terms, the worst-performing sectors at this point are financial services, construction, professional services, and information and communications.

The gender pay gap reporting obligations have been heavily criticised as a blunt tool that does not show ‘real’ comparisons between male and female pay for equivalent work. There are many reasons that an employer may have a gender pay gap. For some industries, particularly those operating reliant on science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) expertise, a major issue lies in the low overall participation of women, and improvement will involve long-term change. In other areas, the gap is down to limits on progression and under-representation in senior roles.

How can this information be used?

If your organisation has already published data for the 2017 snapshot, the interquartile benchmarking outlined above will give you context for your next report. In year two of the reporting cycle it is expected that the scrutiny will shift to whether a company has reduced the pay gap from the previous year, and if not – why not?

If your organisation is among the majority that has not yet published, given the trends identified so far, this analysis gives you a valuable opportunity to assess whether your business is within an acceptable range for your sector. If it is, this is a positive message you may wish to highlight. If not, you may wish to consider managing expectations in your accompanying narrative.

Hannah Netherton is a senior associate at CMS

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