Understanding the gender pay gap

19 Apr, 2024

What is the gender pay gap?

A regular feature in the news, the gender pay gap is the average difference in wages for working men and women. In most scenarios, women are found to be paid less per hour than men.

Since 2017, companies with more than 250 employees have been legally obligated to report their gender pay gap data and publish this on their websites in areas that are easily accessible.

Organisations sometimes factor in considerations such as education, experience and job title to calculate a figure known as the ‘adjusted gender pay gap’. Although this usually reduces the percentage difference, more often than not it reveals ingrained gender bias and suggests that women are paid less than men in the same roles.

What causes the gender pay gap?

Under the 2010 Equality Act, employers are legally obligated to pay men and women equally for work of the same value. So, why is there a difference in average remuneration based on sex?

  • Child-related career breaks

Women are far more likely to have child-related career breaks which slows their professional progression.

  • More unpaid work

On average, women do more unpaid work such as housework and childcare than men. This limits how much time they can commit to a job and, as a result, often involves them working part-time.

  • Fewer female managers

Across the board, there are fewer female managers. To add insult to injury,  women in senior positions tend to earn significantly less than their male counterparts.

  • Overrepresentation in low-paying sectors

Although the number of women in high-paying sectors such as science and technology is increasing, there is a disproportionate number of women in low-paying sectors like care and education.

The latest statistics

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the gender pay gap in the UK was 7.7% for full-time employees in 2023. Among all employees (including part-time workers), the percentage difference was almost double at 14.3%.

The gender pay gap among full-time employees is higher everywhere in England from Liverpool to London when compared to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

When compared to previous data, the latest figures show that the gap is slowly closing. However, there are still clear cases of hiring bias, unfair structuring and workarounds that allow businesses to forgo fair pay for women in senior positions.

How to reduce your gender pay gap

Closing the gender pay gap in your business might take time, but there are several measures you can take to minimise it.

Begin by hiring help such as a professional bookkeeper for business advice relating to your salaries and a solicitor to check that you’re compliant with the 2010 Equality Act. This will ensure you’re adhering to basic standards and help you to identify areas where there may be misconduct.

You can also look into restructuring your business to include more women in senior positions. Giving the option of extended paternity leave is also a great way to ensure that childcare responsibilities can be split evenly between women and men committed to maintaining full-time careers.