Public sector to lead on the gender pay gap

Public sector organisations reporting on the gender pay gap can now take data driven decisions to narrow the gap.

C6fnWemWAAEXjRO.jpg-largeLast week, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities Justine Greening signed public-sector ‪#GenderPayGap regulations into law. Public-sector bodies will now have to calculate their gender pay gap figures and published them with a written statement on the organisation’s website.

Analysing the gender pay gap is not a novelty for the public sector due to already existing Public Sector Equality Duty (since April 2011).

Those subject to the equality duty already had to do the following:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

As part of the Public Sector Equality Duty, public authorities with 150 employees or more in England, Wales and Scotland had to publish information about their work around equality and gender annually to demonstrate compliance with the general equality duty.

The difference with the new regulations is that the key indicators to report on will be more streamlined and comparable. Previously, public organisations had more flexibility with the indicators they report on.

Over the past several months we have supported several public organisations – predominantly local government in streamlining their data with a view of reporting key metrics for the regulations:

  • mean gender pay gap
  • median gender pay gap
  • mean bonus gender pay gap
  • median bonus gender pay gap
  • proportion of males and females receiving a bonus payment
  • proportion of males and females in each pay quartile

ONS places the gender pay gap for local government administrative occupations at 15.7%. Average pay for women in these roles is £11.51 per hour for women and £13.65 per hour for men.

What are the issues?

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 09.05.00The data we have seen so far suggests there are several key reasons for the gender pay gap in local government:

  1. Slow career progression for women – when looking at gender pay gap by age, or by length of service, several key indicators emerge: the gender pay gap increases with increase in length of service, as well as with age. The older a woman is, and the longer she has been working for the local authority, the higher the difference in pay between her and male colleagues. Research indicates this is a national trend, and mostly attributed to what is known as the “motherhood penalty” – when women are penalised for taking time off to care for children. Another factor at play is the fact that while decisions for promotion are taken, women continue to be perceived as risky appointments and men are more likely to get backing for progression than women.
  1. Clustering of women in low paid part time roles – one of the key indicators required for gender pay gap reporting is the percentage of men and women across 4 pay quartiles. Across local government, more women are likely to be clustered in the lower paid quartile, with a steady decrease across the remaining quartiles. The sharpest decrease is in the lower middle and upper middle quartiles – showing a lack of women in middle-management. When women are less present in these roles, they are less likely to make it into the upper quartile.
  1. Ethnicity – the gender pay gap by ethnicity is at least double the average pay gap. Women who are of BAME background face double discrimination. Last week a Fawcett Society report confirmed that many minority ethnic women are “left behind” by pay gap progress.

What can be done?

The regulations are an opportunity for local government to address these key challenges. And the opportunity lies primarily with data. By learning to dig into the data and understand what happens with the gender pay gap with age, or by length of service, ethnicity or level of pay – HR managers become armed with knowledge that can help take targeted decisions to narrow the gap.

At Gapsquare we have been supporting local authorities in understanding and using gender pay gap data effectively, and we would like many more local authorities to join us. When more local authorities use our tools, we can use Artificial Intelligence to identify trends and issues related to gender pay gap in local government and produce specific recommendations that can help narrow the gap faster.

In 2015, the World Economic Forum indicated it could be 118 years before the gender pay gap was closed. By making the most of data and technology, we can skip a century of gender pay gap and bring equality forward.

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Public sector to lead on the gender pay gap

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