With just three weeks to go until the 4 April deadline, fewer than 2,000 employers have published their Gender Pay Gap data. The Government has indicated it expects another 7,000 companies to publish their data in the next few weeks.

All will be revealed after Easter. In the meantime, what does the data that has already been published tell us so far, and how can employers use this information?

A consistent trend across almost all sectors is that there is a significant mean gap in ordinary pay as well as bonus pay. Most employers attribute this to the prevalence of men in senior roles.

This is particularly relevant in certain industries such as Financial Services. For example, the data as at 12 March 2018 suggests that, on average, men working in Financial Services businesses received double the bonuses received by women in the same businesses.

CMS has calculated the interquartile range (the midspread or middle 50%) for each of the sector categories identified for reporting purposes by the Government, for the mean ordinary pay gap and mean bonus pay gap. This range excludes the quarter of respondents with the biggest gender pay gaps and the quarter of respondents with the smallest gender pay gaps, to give a sense of where the “pack” is for a given sector. The below charts use all data as at 12 March 2018 on the Government viewing service, with the vertical line in each case showing the range across the group assessed, and the square marking the median point among them.

Source: Government viewing service; CMS analysis; data correct as at 12 March 2018.

Note: Only sectors with more than 50 companies responding are included above; companies linked with multiple sectors have been included in each identified sector.

What does this data tell us?

It is clear from the above that, in general terms, the worst performing sectors at this point are Financial Services, Construction, Professional Services and Information and Communications.

The Gender Pay Gap reporting obligations have been heavily criticised as a blunt tool that does not show “real” comparisons between male and female pay for equivalent work. There are many reasons why an employer may have a gender pay gap. For some industries, particularly those operating reliant on STEM expertise, a major issue lies in the low overall participation of women, and improvement will involve long-term change. In other areas, the gap is due to limits on progression and under representation in senior roles.

How can you use this data?

If your organisation has already published data for the 2017 snapshot, the interquartile benchmarking outlined above will give you context for your next report. In year two of the reporting cycle we expect that the scrutiny will shift to whether an organisation has reduced the pay gap from the previous year, and if not - why not?

If your organisation is amongst the majority that has not yet published, given the trends identified so far, this analysis gives you a valuable opportunity to assess whether your business is within an acceptable range for your sector. If it is, this is a positive message you may wish to highlight. If not, you may wish to consider managing expectations in your accompanying narrative.