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UK organisations struggle to enact change despite marginal improvement in gender pay pap figures.

A little over a week has passed since the deadline for qualifying private organisations to publish their latest set of gender pay gap reports. Over 10,000 organisations were able to comply with this deadline by submitting their report on gender based pay practices by 4 April 2019.  

Figures from these reports show the overall median pay gap in favour of men lowered slightly over the past year from 9.7 to 9.6 percent. However, more concerning statistics reveal almost 80 percent of organisations continue to pay men more than women on average.

In addition, whilst 48 percent managed to successfully comply with the government’s remit to reduce their gender based pay discrepancies, the difference in pay actually increased in favour of men at 45 percent of organisations, with 7 percent reporting no change at all.

We are also able to see how the gender pay gap differs amongst various sectors and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the traditionally male dominated construction and banking sectors displayed the greatest pay disparity with 24.2 percent and 23.9 percent respectively. In contrast, the accommodation and food services sector were able to boast the lowest average pay gap for the second year in succession at 0.6 percent.

The requirement to publish these reports applies to all organisations with 250 or more employees and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have promised to take strict enforcement action against those who fail to meet the reporting deadline. Interestingly the figures show that over 300 smaller organisations voluntarily published a gender pay gap report as a way of showing a commitment to improving their own gender pay balance.

Despite the slight reduction in the overall average pay gap, this year’s figures seem to suggest that little progress has been made in addressing the UK’s gender pay issue. Last year, this disparity was largely attributed to the lack of women in high paying senior positions and it would appear that further effort is needed to address this trend. 

Organisations are advised to ensure that female staff are given an equal opportunity for career progression and can do this by working to reduce unconscious bias from recruitment and promotion decisions. This commitment can also be outlined by implementing a workplace policy on succession and progression. Taking a positive approach to family friendly initiatives, such as flexible working and parental leave, are also believed to be potential solutions to gender pay disparity and employers should consider where these could provide further support to women at work.

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