The First Wave of Gender Pay Gap Figures Have Been Released

Back in 2017 the government announced that all firms with more than 250 employees must publish how much they pay both their male and female employees, with the deadline set for the 4th of April 2018.

To date a total of 551 firms have submitted their records, with thousands more companies expected to release their figures in the coming months.

The focus of the Gender Pay Gap report is to understand the difference between the average earnings of men and women, without taking into consideration their respective positions in the company.

What The Numbers Say

Some of the figures published already are pretty shocking. Phase Eight, a women’s fashion chain, have published the biggest pay gap to date, with women paid an average of 64.8% less than their male employees.

Crowding out the list of the top 20 companies with the biggest pay gaps are firms in the financial services. Asset management firm Octopus Capital pay women 38.1% less, PriceWaterhouseCoopers pay 33.1% less, and Virgin Money 32.5%.

Following the release, Virgin Money published the following statement on their website:

“We are passionate about fairness, equality and inclusion and are committed to reducing our gender pay gap. We are confident that men and women are paid equally for doing equivalent jobs across our business.”

Which is at least acknowledging that the problem exists. What they will do to reduce the gap remains to be seen.

Large firms like Ladbrokes and Easyjet have also revealed worrying gaps. The airline company have disclosed that women are paid a mean of 51.7% less per hour than men, whilst Ladbrokes pay female employees 15% less.

On the other end of the spectrum, mattress retailer Sweet Dreams pay women 46.4% more than their male employees, and nursery company Yellow Dot pay an average hourly rate to women of 35.4% more.

Additionally, Cambridgeshire Police presented a 12.9% gap in favour of women, and Unilever UK an 8.8% gap.

In good news, the British Museum have announced that men and women are paid exactly equally, and the Armed Forces have reported a gap of only 0.9%.

What Companies Have to Say

In acknowledging the pay gap at their company, Easyjet have released the following statement:

“EasyJet’s gender pay gap is strongly influenced by the salaries and gender make-up of its pilot community, which make up over a quarter of its UK employees. Pilots are predominantly male and their higher salaries, relative to other employees, significantly increases the average male pay at easyJet.”

In order to tackle the problem head-on, the airline company are aiming to encourage women to become pilots, with a target of 20% of new entrants to be female by 2020.

In defending their pay gap, chief executive Benjamin Barnett of Phase Eight has claimed that the numbers are not representative of the “true story”, as most male employees are in the head office:

“The figures result from the fact that, as a women’s fashion retailer, the staff in our stores are overwhelmingly female, whilst our corporate head office staff (whose pay rates are typically higher) are more evenly split between men and women.

“We are confident that women and men are paid equally for doing the equivalent jobs across our business.”

Which seems to be missing the point, and the statement should be aimed at addressing female representation in their head office spaces instead.

And, rather flimsily, PriceWaterhouseCoopers have issued the following statement.

“Our analysis of our gender pay gap shows that it is largely driven by the fact that there are more men in senior higher-paid roles within the business. We continue to take action to address any gaps and to make sure our policies and practices are fair.”

Unfortunately the results aren’t particularly surprising. And neither are the responses from some of the companies. We can only hope that, as the report gets more attention, the spotlight will be shone more brightly on companies revealing large pay gaps. Perhaps rather than explaining that men are more likely to be higher up in the company, they could address the fact that women are lower down.

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