The Gender Pay Gap Results Are In – Here’s What They All Mean

The Gender Pay Gap Results Are In – Here’s What They All Mean

Yesterday time was officially up for companies to hand in their data on their gender pay gap. Around 8,889 businesses reported on time, and while it might take a little while to collate a firm result from the data, a pattern is already emerging – of these compliant companies, 6,947 pay men more than women, 1,213 pay women more than men, and just 729 pay women and men equally.

Essentially the restuls show 80% of companies pay their male staff more. This isn’t to say women are being paid less to do the same job as men - under the Equal Pay Act 1970 and Equality Act 2010, that would be illegal. The data shows the overall gender pay and bonus gap, rather than the pay disparity between men and women in the same job.

Who are the worst offenders?

The winner of the worst pay gap goes to North Wales News, who run papers such as the North Wales Chronicle and the Chester Standard, and have a massive 85.2 gap between male and female employees.

Up there with the worst is women’s lingerie brand Boux Avenue. Owned by Theo Paphitis, of Dragon’s Den fame, it was reported that there women on average earn 75.7% less per hour than men. This is based on the median hourly earnings, meaning the midpoint of all the hourly rates of women is taken and compared to that of the men. The gap reflects the fact that the majority of the staff working in retail are female shop assistants. This was seen in many retail companies; the shop workers tended to be female, while the people in head office tended to be male – like dress manufacturer Phase Eight, whose median pay gap was 54.5%.

Can we trust these results?

In some ways, calculating the median makes it hard to come away with an accurate depiction of these results. In the above cases, it’s not that women are being paid less for similar roles, it means women simply aren’t at the same levels and possibly aren’t being given the same opportunities. Take, for example, the results for Ryanair, who reported the worst gender pay gap in airline history. Their median hourly rate among UK staff is 71.8% lower for women than it is for men – but that’s largely because there are far more male pilots than there are female. In Ryanair, 95% of their employees in the UK are either pilots or cabin crew. Only eight of their 554 UK-based pilots are female, while women make up more than two-thirds of their cabin crew, who are relatively low paid.

Above all the the results are representative of a huge shift begging to be addressed. In fact, companies like Ryanair have already started to address the problem before the deadline had even closed. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the airline addressed this chasm in job roles given to men and women: “Like all airlines, our gender pay in the UK is materially affected by the relatively low numbers of female pilots in the aviation industry. In recent years, the number of female pilots applying to Ryanair has increased and we are committed to developing this welcome trend. It is a feature of the aviation industry that more males than females choose to enter the pilot profession.”

It wasn’t all bad though – in a minority of cases, the gap was small or non-existent, and in some rare cases, women were paid more than men. At Unilever UK, women earn around 9% more than men, which reflects the fact that more than half of the management positions are held by women, while 70% of those in manufacturing roles were men. At the British Museum, male and female staff are paid exactly the same.

What happens now?

On the eve of the results, Prime Minister Theresa May wrote in a piece for the Daily Telegraph: “When I became Prime Minister, I committed myself to tackling the burning injustices which mar our society. One such is the gender pay gap. It is essential that we do so. Most importantly, because equality for women is a right, and our whole society is the poorer as long as it remains unrealised.

"There is also a clear economic imperative. It is estimated that if women and men enjoyed parity in their hours, pay and seniority at work then we could see up to £150 billion added to our GDP."

In addition to May’s words, a group of female MPs have joined forces to encourage women to hold their employers accountable for the gender pay gap and demand action. Walthamstow Labour MP Stella Creasy is leading the movement with an online campaign called #PayMeToo, which aims to give women advice on how to handle the gender pay gap where they work. “If we are serious about tackling the gender pay gap then we have to do more than publish data – we have to show we’re watching what happens next,” said Creasy.

The campaign is backed by Creasy’s fellow across all parties, including Labour MPs Jess Phillips; Liberal Democrats Layla Moran, Christine Jardine and Jo Swinson; and Conservative MP Nicky Morgan. The social media hashtag is also accompanied by the website that aims to ensure that all women know their rights when it comes to addressing pay gaps in the workplace, as well as giving advice on what to do next, be it working with women’s networks or contacting trade unions.

The deadline marks what could be a huge shift in the way firms pay their male and female staff, with unhappy employees now asking what they can do to close the gender pay gap in their office. As for the companies themselves, Creasy added that instead of trying to shut down criticism or silence staff members, senior officials in each business should help women to seek solutions to closing the pay gap.

What to do about the gender pay gap in your company:

Join a union – women facing a large gender pay gap in their employers are entitled to join a union. Diana Holland, assistant general secretary at Unite told the Guardian you can join a union despite whether your employer recognises one or not: “The gender pay gap in trade-union-organised workplaces is smaller than in those where there is no union. Unions can still support and advise you.”

If there’s no union, you can get together with the women in your office, document all your issues and concerns about pay, then make a plan for the best way to raise it to your employers. These are tough conversations to have, but there’s strength in numbers.

Let your bosses know you’re not happy – Let’s be honest, a big gender pay gap will be a huge source of embarrassment for your company, so let them know you’re not happy about it. If they’re feeling sheepish, now, whilst it’s fresh, is the best time to bring up your grievances. Holland suggested asking for more information from your employer, like whether men and women have equal access to overtime, pensions and bonuses, and request the complete an equal pay audit, to find out whether men and women are receiving different pay rates for the same job.

Ask for a promotion – There’s never been a better time to do it. The main point we can all take away from this data is that women are just not being hired in higher paying roles. They aren’t being given the job titles or responsibility they deserve. And how can companies start to remedy this straight away? By giving promotions to the women who deserve them. Maybe it’s time you ask your boss how you can start working to progress into head office jobs.

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