A steady trickle of gender pay gap reports are now being published as 2017 draws to a close, leaving just over three months until the 5 April 2018 deadline for publication. However, analysis by the Financial Times suggests not all of the published results are accurate. Meanwhile, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) has published a toolkit to assist employers in calculating and publishing their gender pay gap data and then taking action to remove any gap.

Shell and the Bank of England are among the latest organisations to publish their gender pay gap reports, revealing average pay gaps of 22.2% and 24.2% respectively. Both blame a lack of women in senior positions. At the same time, the Financial Times has analysed the data submitted to the government website to date and challenged the 1 in 20 companies which have reported having no mean or median gender pay gap, and having exactly the same number of men and women in each of the pay quartiles. These results are highly improbable. The anomalies suggest that some organisations are struggling to carry out the calculations correctly. The FT investigation shows, however, that there is nowhere to hide and emphasises the importance of ensuring your data is accurate prior to publication.

The GEO toolkit, whilst fairly basic, includes signposts to the ACAS and CIPD guides on how to calculate and publish your data. It goes on to set out some suggestions for priority actions which could form part of an action plan for closing your organisation’s gender pay gap. The suggestions include:

  • revamping your recruitment process to attract a diverse mix of candidates;
  • doing more to support staff with caring responsibilities; and
  • designing every job as flexible by default and advertising jobs as flexible from ‘day 1’.

Whilst it is important for organisations to put in place a programme of measures to remove the particular causes of their gender pay gap, we also need to consider how young people embarking on their careers can be encouraged to consider a full range of career options, free from gender stereotypes. A recent study by University College London’s Institute for Education suggests that work needs to be done at a much earlier stage in order to prevent the perpetuation of the gender pay gap. The study, involving data from over 7,700 UK teenagers, indicated that girls aspired to less well-paid jobs than boys. This was despite more girls than boys expecting to go to university.