Whitehall is making efforts to close its gender pay gap

Some of the UK Government’s biggest departments have seen the gap between what they pay men and women widen over the last year, despite ministers’ efforts to tackle gender inequality in the UK economy.

Since 2017, every organization with 250 or more employees has been required to report its gender pay gap annually to highlight the large disparities between men’s and women’s pay.

According to the latest estimate from the Office for National Statistics, the overall gender pay gap in the UK economy was 8.3 per cent in April 2022.

However, the FT analysis showed that some of the government’s departments have widened the gap between the average amount they pay male and female employees this year.

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The data emerged as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was speaking at a reception celebrating International Women’s Day this week.

“To grow our economy, create jobs and build a more productive and innovative country, we need the transformative power of women,” he told the assembled female business leaders and students.

However, the gap between the median salaries of men and women in the Cabinet Office, which includes the Prime Minister’s team, rose 6.8 percentage points last year – from 9.8 percent to 16.6 percent – one of the largest increases in the country Whitehall .

Other departments where the gender pay gap has widened include HMRC, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Transport and the Department for Education.

One of the largest gender pay gaps in public services was in the Treasury, where a comparison of the median hourly wage showed that women are paid 82p for every pound men earn – a level which has remained unchanged since last year. Since 2017, the gender pay gap in the department has increased from 13.7 percent to 18 percent.

DCMS recorded the largest annual trend reversal, going from median pay parity in 2021 to a 9.8 percent gender pay gap in 2022.

The pay gap at the Department of Transportation widened 7.1 percentage points from 5.8 percent to 12.9 percent; at HMRC it rose from 8.8 per cent to 12.6 per cent; while in the Department of Education it rose from 4 percent to 4.9 percent.

“The government doesn’t stop at talking. It is important that we see the government as a role model. It aims to help close, not widen, the national gender pay gap,” said Ann Francke, director of the Chartered Management Institute.

Many government agencies continue to see a higher percentage of women employees in junior positions and lower representation at senior levels.

For example, in the Cabinet Office, less than a third of senior officers are women and the average female salary is £88,918 compared to the average male salary of £95,136.

The gender pay gap narrowed in eight other government departments and remained unchanged in two, including Treasury. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is the only major department yet to report its gender pay figures for this year.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “While the latest data show that the public sector employs proportionately more women than ever before and the median gender pay gap is narrowing in most government departments, there is clearly more work to be done.”

Since the introduction of the reporting rules, the gender pay gap has been gradually narrowed at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Department of Health and Welfare, Department of Interior and Department of Defense.

No department has ever reported a negative gender pay gap – where the median hourly wage is higher for women than for men.

Francke said the widening pay gap was badly affecting efforts to tackle the UK’s productivity problems, which she said were partly due to a failure to attract more women into the labor market and into managerial positions.

“You would get better, more innovative policies in those departments, with more women in leadership positions.” She said.

https://www.ft.com/content/37d92348-93be-4b45-9fdd-a952f5528a42 Whitehall is making efforts to close its gender pay gap

Brian Ashcraft

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