Recent ONS data reveals that the gender pay gap for UK workers has widened to 8.3 percent this year.
Among full-time employees the gender pay gap in April 2022 was 8.3 percent; this was 7.7 percent in April 2021 and 9.0 percent in April 2019 (pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic).
How does age impact the gender pay gap?
“The clearest insight into the gender pay gap is provided by analysis across age groups,” states the ONS report.
Since 207, for groups aged under 40 years, the gender pay gap for full-time employees stands at a low 3.2 percent or below.
“However, for age groups aged 40 to 49 years and older, the gender pay gap for full-time employees is much higher, at over 10.9 percent,” says the report.
What do HR and recruitment specialists think of these stats?
Sandra Wilson, director, recruitment and HR consultancy Cottrell Moore:
“I think we need to be careful how we read this data, Firstly these figures are a measure across all jobs in the UK, not of the difference in pay between men and women for doing the same job. This is a crucial element and without this mentioned it can give totally the wrong impression. The issue that I see regularly in organisations, which needs addressing further, is when higher earners experience a much larger difference in hourly pay between the sexes compared with lower-paid employees.
“Women are usually the ones who require a more flexible working environment and yet in my view often deliver just as much value, if not more, than their male counterparts, sometimes in half the time. However, in comparison women are reluctant to discuss salary and ask for raises as often. It’s evidenced when women apply for jobs. They only apply if they know they tick all the boxes, while men are more likely to take a risk and apply if they only tick half. On a positive note, it looks like females in the younger generation are more confident to address pay, as the stats show over time the gender pay gap is slowly decreasing in the under 40s.”
Clare Willetts, founder & CEO, Not Only Pink and Blue:
“A key time that the gender pay gap is exacerbated is around the time of having a family. In order to reduce the gender pay gap, we need to normalise caring responsibilities being shared. Our shared parental leave policies are simply not fit for purpose. We need to create parent-friendly workspaces regardless of gender and encourage shared responsibility of children. We can start to challenge gender stereotypes in the home by making sure that businesses are supporting parents to help end the cycle.”
Carla Hoppe, founder, workplace financial wellbeing provider Wealthbrite:
“The latest gender pay gap statistics should be shocking to everyone reading them. Progress appears to be reversing before our eyes. Do we need to ask what is causing this? McKinsey reported earlier this month that women are leaving jobs in record numbers searching for greater flexibility, inclusivity and meaningful support for their wellbeing. In the same month, however, we saw former PM Liz Truss remove what she called red tape for SME businesses with fewer than 500 employees, exempting them from the requirement to report on the gender pay gap.
“There is a saying that what gets measured, gets done, which makes this move even more depressing. The news today focuses on the disparity in equal pay but we also need to talk about childcare costs, parental leave and return to work policies as part of a culture of equality and inclusivity. The gender pay gap is just the tip of the iceberg and the workplace steamliner heading in its direction needs to wake up to the danger.”
Cheney Hamilton, CEO, HR & Business Consultancy, The Find Your Flex Group
“Whilst the majority of businesses within the UK operate on a cost and budget model, there will never be gender parity on pay. Neither will we achieve true and positive social mobility, nor will those businesses be inclusive or sustainable. Whilst fixed costs rule the day in organisations, they will always struggle to bring people who have had ‘time out’ of the rat race to care or give birth, a fair route back in, because they lack the agility and working models to achieve it. Outcome-based job descriptions are the only way businesses in the UK can become sustainable, inclusive, flexible and engender social mobility and finally close the gender pay gaps that exist across their business in a fair and proactive way.”
Edua Effiom, consultant, HR Consultancy Face2Face HR
“It is disappointing to see that the gender pay gap is widening. Unfortunately, the cost-of-living crisis will impact women greater because more women work below the living wage and tend to work in sectors that have been hit by inflationary pressures such as care and hospitality. There is a school of thought that gender pay gap reporting is a tick-box exercise that has little value. Obtaining gender pay gap data, however, is the first step to making change. If you do not know where the problem is, you cannot expect to solve it.
“The next step is to take action. Are companies recruiting using the same networks? Why not try to recruit from women networking groups such as women in tech or women in construction? Are companies using employee forums to ensure that women have a voice in their businesses? Do companies have policies in place that support women, such as menopause at work? Implementing these steps costs nothing. It is a question of leadership and putting this issue higher up on companies’ agendas.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.