It’s a little over five months since the first “snapshot date” of 5 April 2017 and less than seven months before the final deadline for employers with 250 or more UK staff to publish their first ever gender pay gap reports without incurring the wrath of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. This seems as good a point as any to ask the question “Where are we now?”

First, a couple of dogs that haven’t barked. There wasn’t much of a rush to gain “first mover advantage” and publish as soon as possible after the end of the April payroll run, with a view to demonstrating virtue or better performance than sectoral comparators.

Rather, only 80 out of the estimated 7,000 or so employers with 250+ staff have uploaded their report to the Government’s website - that’s little more than 1% of the total. (Our own “snapshot date” for these purposes is today, 25 September 2017 – additional reports trickle in every day.) Nor has there been any welter of negative publicity for organisations publishing “bad” figures – although gender pay, and its more litigious cousin equal pay, increasingly feature in the headlines.

As for the “snapshot 80”:

  • The “mean, mean” pay gap is 12.09% and the “mean, median” pay gap is 11.64%. That’s low compared to the most recent Office for National Statistics study of the nationwide gender pay gap (18.1% in 2016). Anecdotally, it is also low compared to what we’ve seen in the fairly extensive work we have done with our own clients in preparing their figures. This is most likely the result of a fairly high number of public sector organisations among the 80 – their pay gaps are typically somewhat lower than their private sector counterparts.
  • In a similar vein, the “mean, mean” bonus gap is 10.50% and the “mean, median” bonus gap is 12.23%. The picture is distorted, however, by the fact that 29 of the 80 organisations report a 0% mean bonus gap and a 0% median gap – meaning, in other words, that they don’t pay bonuses. If those are taken out, gaps in the order of 30, 40 or even 50% are pretty commonplace – again in line with our own experience.
  • On average, 29.95% of men and 28.85% of women in the sample of 80 received a bonus – again distorted by the many organisations not paying any.
  • Unsurprisingly, the quartiles data shows a steady progression from a preponderance of female employees in the lowest paid quartiles to a preponderance of men in the highest paid. Across the 80, there was an average of 54.91% women in the lowest paid, 50.52% women in the lower mid, 45.14% women in the upper mid, and 38.64% women in the upper.
  • Eleven organisations report a 0% median pay gap. This seems surprising until you remember that in any workforce with a large group or even a majority of staff in the middle earning exactly the same - perhaps, in many cases, the national minimum wage - this would be the inevitable result. Just two organisations so far (including the British Museum) have achieved the “nirvana” of a 0% mean gap.
  • Most organisations have elected to publish a narrative to sit alongside their headline statistics. In most cases, this is a mixture of context (why the stats are as they are or, put another way, why they’re not as bad as they look) and an account of the efforts and initiatives underway to try to tackle the larger gaps.
  • And finally, the awards… Bouquets to Hall Cleaning Services Ltd, proud reporters of the narrowest mean (0.1%) and median (0.0%) pay gaps to date. Brickbats to Octopus Capital Ltd (largest mean pay gap – 38.1%) and the Office for Nuclear Regulation (largest median gap – 55.3%). Remember though, as we’ve pointed out previously, there are lies, damned lies and statistics - and gender pay gap reporting figures may be some of the damnedest statistics of all…