Employers should now be compiling their gender pay gap statistics for reporting in April 2018. We recommend that when doing so you make use of the opportunity to provide an explanatory narrative to support the financial figures. Unfortunately raw statistical data alone may create a misleading picture – what may be balanced when reported in employee quartiles can be lost when looked at as a whole due to an uneven spread of male to female employee numbers in the different quartiles.

On a company wide level it may be, as is common in the UK, that women make up more of the support roles typically commanding the lower salaries whereas men may make up more of the management and higher paid roles. Therefore if viewed as a whole, it may appear that women are paid less than their male counterparts. However, on a like for like basis, a female support worker and a female manager could actually be paid the same as their male counterparts.

There remain questions in general about the under-representation of women in certain roles or sectors, however a comparison of like roles may go a long way in curbing any potentially adverse publicity from the new reporting requirements if a company can show they comply with equal pay for equal work. Employers have the option to include a narrative explaining any pay gaps or other disparities and so can set this out, and if the figures still paint a negative picture then equally the narrative can be used to set out any action they plan to take to resolve it.