Number of businesses publishing gender pay gap figures 'halved since last year'

The number of organisations who have reported on their gender pay gap has halved since last year, in a “worrying sign for things to come”, a business organisation has warned.

Larger companies have to publish figures showing their gender pay gap.

The number of companies which had reported its gender pay gap figures by the beginning of April this year was half that of 2019, according to analysis by Business in the Community. The report analysed data reported by organisations over the last three years. As of 8 April, 5,081 organisations had reported on the government portal. Since then, approximately 500 additional organisations have reported. Last year 10,828 organisations had reported by the April 2019 deadline.

The figures, published on the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, come after the UK government in March suspended the requirement for companies to report their 2019-2020 gender pay gap due to the Coronavirus crisis.

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However, Business in the Community pointed out that relevant measurement data becomes available to reporting organisations one year in advance, and the decision to lift the requirement came less than two weeks before the 4 April deadline, suggesting that some companies have used the opportunity to delay publishing the figures.

The group warned that the number of non-reporters – which includes many FTSE100 organisations – comes as a worrying sign for things to come for gender equality in the workplace and said that the Coronavirus outbreak had highlighted the inequality between genders, with women more likely to work in the industries worst hit by lockdown, more likely picking up the extra childcare needed as schools and nurseries remain closed and more likely to work in lower paid, less secure work than men.

Charlotte Woodworth, gender equality campaign director at Business in the Community, said: “Pay gap reporting is a vital tool in understanding and tackling gender inequality at work. If we don’t have a clear picture of women’s status at work entering the crisis, we won’t be able to take the right steps going forward. It is hugely disappointing to see so many opted out when the legal requirement was lifted – and a worrying sign of attitudes towards gender equality during the crisis.

“In these difficult times, businesses which choose to put equality and inclusion at the heart of their response will end up better placed to flourish in the future. We know that more diverse, inclusive workplaces lead to better bottom lines. The choices companies make now will play a vital role in deciding whether we lock in the progress made in recent years, or see women’s standing at work unravel. This crisis could see women’s equality pushed back a generation.”

At the time of the analysis, the average UK gender pay gap on a median basis, showed a year on year increase from 11.9 per cent in 2018-19, to 12.8 per cent in 2019-20. This builds on data published in October 2019 by the Office of National Statistics, which showed that the gender pay gap had decreased year on year.

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