Public sector organisations with more than 250 employees have until March 30 of this year to unveil their figures, but most government departments have done so early.
No government department has said it pays women the same or more than men. But the data has revealed some stark differences. The government department with the smallest pay gap is Culture, Media and Sport, with female employees on average earning 3.3% less each hour than male employees.
However, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is a non-departmental public body, remarkably does pay its female staff 7.5% more per hour, showing that men in the public sector need not inevitably earn more than women.
The figures, however, must be treated with some caution. They are not checked by the government agency responsible for the portal when they are uploaded – the responsibility for accuracy is on the employer – and some inconsistencies have been revealed already.
The public sector bodies with the highest gender pay and bonus gaps are the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority, reflecting a wider trend in the sector: financial services has the widest gender gap in the UK.
To tackle the gap in financial services, the European Commission is now pushing for regulation that would require companies to have at least 40% of women on corporate boards. Norway has had a 40% quota for women on company boards since 2002.
In terms of central government, the department that has revealed the worst gap is the Department of Transport (DoT): women earn 16.9% less than men every hour on average, also reflecting the gender imbalance of the sector.
“These figures clearly show that we still have work to do”
“These figures clearly show that we still have work to do, and we are determined to do more to encourage more women to work in the department and the wider transport sector,” said a Department for Transport spokesperson.
“This includes partnering with Harvard Business School to better understand how to attract more women into male-dominated roles, and the launch of our new diversity and inclusion strategy, which aims to make us one of the most inclusive departments in the civil service.”
The department now has name-blind recruitment and diverse recruitment panels, in addition to training its staff in recognising unconscious bias. In 2018, it will also launch a Year of Engineering campaign to inspire more young women to join the field.
Across the UK, women make up only one in eight of those in engineering occupations and less than one in 10 of those in an engineering role within an engineering company.
While transparency is meant to generate data that reveals what needs to change, the figures need to be treated with some caution, as the burden is on employers to make sure their information is accurate.
Already, inconsistencies and mistakes have been revealed. The Department of Health has adjusted its results twice, at one point reporting that it paid women 14% more than men. And, according to the Financial Times, more than 4% of private sector organisations have already claimed to have a gap that is statistically implausible.
Nonetheless, the idea of pay transparency may be catching on. Following the UK, Germany has also just passed a new law on pay transparency. At of the start of this year, employees in firms with more than 200 people can request details about the median pay of employees in comparable roles. Norway also allows citizens to look up the salary of anyone in the country.
But a committee of MPs is worried about the future of the gender gap in the UK in the face of legal changes around Brexit. They have warned that the government has not given answers on what will replace an EU-wide equal pay monitoring system when it leaves. Europe’s new action plan on equal pay includes policies to enforce sanctions and compensation to those not paid fairly.
(Picture credit: Flickr/perzon seo)