The gender pay gap – it’s an ever-popular topic in UK media recently. Much has changed in relation to gender representation over the past couple of years, but what’s in store for the future?
According to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee report: Gender pay gap reporting (2018), the UK still has one of the largest pay gaps in Europe. To tackle this, the government has introduced new laws, as well as created guides to assist firms in giving women as many career and progression opportunities as men.
Although steps are being made to ameliorate the problem, the gender pay gap is having a negative impact on women and businesses in the UK. Now that the figures on the pay gap for large companies are easily accessible, women are likely to feel underappreciated and undervalued in comparison to men in the same workplace. This is also likely to have affected recruitment, as businesses with a larger pay gap may be being overlooked by talented employees who deserve fairer pay and opportunities.
What’s being done at the moment?
In April 2017, the government announced mandatory reporting of gender pay gaps. The law now requires companies with more than 250 employees to submit data on the representation of gender in their workplace. At present, this encompasses around 10,000 companies in the UK.
This is all done through an online system, which allows members of the public to search for and access the reports easily and free of charge. The online system has the aim of promoting transparency, meaning businesses must be accountable for any gender pay gap within their workforce, as well as offering more equal opportunities for everyone to succeed, regardless of gender. Doing so can help companies to build a positive reputation through providing fair and equal career paths that are not gender-specific.
What are the statistics?
As shown in data from the reports gathered by the government so far, more than three out of four participating UK companies pay male staff (on average) more than their female staff. This is a huge statistic that suggests much more needs to be done to promote gender equality in the workplace.
It was also reported that more than half of the companies give, on average, larger bonuses to men than women. The report revealed that men are more likely to be employed in higher paid positions, with more than 80 per cent of companies reporting mostly women in their lowest paid positions.
What the future might look like
The report Gender pay gap reporting (2018) showed that the current system only covers around half of the UK’s workforce. As such, it calls on the government to help close the pay gap by requiring companies that employ more than 50 people to submit their data as well. It also proposes a further change to the system that would ask companies to explain their data, detailing an “action plan for closing the gap, against which they must report progress each year”.
The government is also looking to launch a £1.6 million project to expand and improve the gender pay gap digital reporting service. This will include adding more features within the service as well as helping to promote it as a tool for driving action to close the pay gap. This could create a much more in-depth and transparent reporting tool in the future.
Changes to regulations show that the UK is edging towards a more equal workforce, but statistics show that much more will need to be done to ensure that this happens, with more changes due to impact companies of all sizes in the near future. It’s now more important than ever for employers to encourage diversity within their workforce and ensure that the specific needs for this are met, through equal opportunities within pay, benefits packages and career progression.