The gender pay gap is narrowing. However, females are still under-represented at the more senior management levels especially in male dominated sectors

March 30, 2020


The gender pay gap is narrowing. However, females are still under-represented at the more senior management levels especially in male dominated sectors

The Gender Pay Gap Regulations, known as the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 came into force in the UK in April 2017. The regulations require all private and non-governmental, nonprofit organisations with 250 or more employees to publish data on the average difference between the pay of men and women.

The introduction of the regulations has resulted in a decrease in the Gender Pay Gap on average across UK companies. For example, the Gender Pay Gap halved from almost 20% in 1997 to 8.9% in 2019 among full-time employees (Source: ONS).

Source: Office of National Statistics (ONS), Statistical bulletin Gender pay gap in the UK: 2019

The reasons for the narrowing of the Gender Pay Gap vary but the main ones are:

Improvement of workplace flexibility (part-time work, remote working, job sharing etc.);
Encouragement of Shared Parental Leave;
Recruitment of career returners (recruiting individuals who have taken an extended  career break due to caring responsibilities or other reasons);
Internal targets to ensure employee equality goals.

The Gender Pay Gap among full-time professional occupations, skilled trades and administrative/secretarial occupations has notably decreased by nearly 2 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS). In contrast, the Gender Pay Gap widened among the high-paying managers, professionals and senior officials from roughly 14% in 2018 to almost 16% in 2019, indicating increasing inequality at the top level.

The chart below highlights the point that the 10% highest paid women earn a fifth less per hour than the 10% highest paid men (Source: ONS).

Source: ONS, Statistical bulletin Gender pay gap in the UK: 2019

Among common reasons for the Gender Pay Gap at the top level are:

Low representation of females in certain high-paying sectors (e.g. Technology, Energy) in particular at the senior level;
Caring responsibilities and as a result part-time versus full-time work which could slow career progression;
Females working in lower paid sectors (Healthcare, Education etc.);
Equal pay – females earning less for the same job/role as their male peers.

Overall, the situation with the Gender Pay Gap has been substantially improved during the last two decades. However, females are still under-represented at the more senior management levels especially in male dominated sectors. But, there are a number of measures that could help build the female pipeline of talent in the workplace, for example by introducing measures such as flexible working, shared parental leave, recruitment of carers, returners and many others.

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