Gender Pay – A Year On

Friday, May 3, 2019

How far has the UK really come since last year’s gender pay reporting?

It's now been over a year since the government instructed companies to reveal the salaries of their male and female employees for the first time.

The gender pay gap became a key issue in the minds of many, after the UK government mandated that all companies with over 250 employees have to publish reports displaying the median and mean average pay of men and women in their employment.

While equal pay is required by law, the gender pay gap is more complex. The Equal Pay Act of 1960 prohibits any discrimination based on gender. Equal pay means that men and women being paid the same amount for doing the same job. Seems simple enough. The gender pay gap however, describes a measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across an organisation, rather than those who are simply in the same role. (Personal Group, 2018)

In short, the gender pay gap is an equality measure that shows the difference in average earnings between women and men, it is this gap that companies are having to disclose in their gender pay gap reports.

However, there is another gender issue to consider. Something that we at Personal Group think is integral to company success - workplace happiness. At the time of the first Gender Pay Reports were being published in 2018 we ran our first gender happiness survey, which revealed that there is a substantial workplace happiness gap. Despite being paid significantly less on average than men, women were happier in their jobs.

A year on from our original survey, and with this year’s gender pay reporting having recently been completed, let’s take a look at how things have progressed.

The Gender Pay Gap

Unfortunately, overall, not much has changed, with the BBC reporting that 78% of companies have a pay gap in favour of men, while 14% favoured women - pretty much the same result as 2018.

The BBC also reported that four in ten employers have actually seen their gender pay gap increase this year, although optimists would speculate this could be due to male dominated industries actively recruiting women in entry level positions as part of their long-term plan to redress the balance as talent moves up through the organisation. Although for now, It's also been revealed by the latest statistics show that every single industry pays men more.

This lack of change is compounded by the complaints made in February 2019 regarding the lack of sanctions for companies failing to comply to the new regulations. Many feel this shows a disturbing lack of respect for the issue by the companies involved, and the media have been calling for assurances that there be consequences for submitting incomplete or inaccurate data.

The Gender Happiness Gap

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the gender happiness gap has also remained widely unchanged. Interestingly, whilst a higher salary was voted most in demand by both men (60.9%) and women (63.3%), the numbers show that women crave recognition substantially more than men (39.8% of men vs. 47.1% of women. One reason behind this may be that men feel, to a greater extent than women, satisfied that they are recognised for their contribution at work.

Despite the gap in happiness levels, there seems to be little difference in the pride that men and women have in their work – over a third of both genders feel proud of what they do most of the time (33.1% of men and 34.9% of women). And whilst pride in our work appears to increase with seniority for both genders, with fewer frontline employees feeling proud of their work most of the time (31.2% women and 23.8% men) than company owners and directors (62.5% women and 55.6% men), the happiness gap is consistent between genders regardless of seniority.

In Short

Overall, things aren't great one year on. There's an argument that changing the dynamic of a workforce so that more women are employed at a senior level takes time. It also can be said that overhauling a company’s approach to their overall employee experience is a slow process, the effects of which may take even longer to be seen in both happiness and talent mobility. However, with the gender pay gap still increasing in some organisations, it seems that these issues aren’t being taken as seriously as they should be. While women supposedly achieved equal pay in 1970, with the act later being absorbed by the 2010 equality act, if we continue at the current pace, the gender pay gap won’t be eradicated until 2235.  

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