Business

This is your second warning ...mind the gender pay gap

Little progress has been made since last year, figures suggest

Lack of change could be because women were brought in – but in junior roles
(PA)

A significant proportion of employers have revealed an increase in their gender pay gap as the second deadline looms for reporting the information, it has been suggested.

As of last year, companies with more than 250 employees have to report the figures on 4 April – today.

Some 9,500 of an expected 10,000 organisations had published their gender pay gap as of 3pm yesterday, with the deadline for the other 500 looming at midnight. A handful of councils, NHS trusts and universities have already missed the 30 March deadline for public sector organisations.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said it was disappointing that many employers had not provided an action plan. He said: “Organisations that simply provide their numbers are failing to meet the increasing appetite and expectation for transparency amongst all stakeholders, including employees, investors, and regulators.

“Financial figures would never be given without any explanation for them, and gender pay gap reporting should be no different. As the year two deadline looms, early submissions suggest that a significant proportion of companies have reported an increase to their gender pay gap.”

He said some of this could have been caused by companies bringing in more women to entry-level roles so that they can build up female talent. “This is a genuine commitment to lasting change and we must welcome these efforts even if it does mean the numbers do initially go up instead of down,” he said.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Big employers clearly aren’t doing enough to tackle the root causes of pay inequality and working women are paying the price. Government needs to crank up the pressure.

“Companies shouldn’t just be made to publish their gender pay gaps, they should be legally required to explain how they’ll close them. And bosses who flout the law should be fined. We can’t allow another generation of women to spend their whole working lives waiting to be paid the same as men.”

Jenny Gilruth, an SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) said: “Although Scotland has already taken great strides towards combating inequality between men and women, we still need to go further to achieve a truly equal society. The gender pay gap is smaller in Scotland than it is in the UK, but our economy could benefit by a further £15bn if we had the powers to fully eradicate that gap between male and female workers.

“The evidence is clear: better opportunities for women to participate fully in our economy means improved performance overall. We have the opportunity to achieve more in Scotland when it comes to equality than the painfully slow progress Westminster has delivered.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, said businesses cannot close the gap by themselves, adding: “Many of the causes lie outside the workplace including a lack of affordable, high-quality childcare and better careers advice.

“Companies and government working together remains the best way to deliver the long-term, lasting change that’s needed.”

PA