According to a study undertaken by Mercer, reported in the Financial Times on 16 July 2017, there is evidence that the majority of UK employers are unprepared for the upcoming gender pay reporting requirement. Of those which are ready, which was 30% of the employers canvassed, they were waiting to publish their data until the last quarter of the year. One possibility may be that if everyone publishes at the same time, then there’s the hope that one employers’ disclosable data will blend into the background. That may be the case when industry wide comparisons are undertaken, but not so when individual employees or prospective candidates are looking at their own employers’ results.

Less than 30 out of approximately 9,000 employers (that’s 3% of employers obliged to publish), have published their data online and uploaded it to the Government website so far. Within the data published by these 3% of relevant employers, there are some big gender pay gap statistics. The biggest from PwC and Virgin Money, both of whom have added narratives on their own webpages to explain the data. Both companies report reductions from last year, having published voluntarily in 2016 (albeit at that rate a slow closure of the gender pay gap is forecast). Only one employer with a workforce comprising approximately 80% female discloses a practically zero gender pay gap (0.1%). It’s not necessarily the case though that a female dominated workforce will not have a gender pay gap; a different employer comprising approximately 85% women reported a 35.9% (mean) and 55% (median) gender pay gap when comparing hourly rates.

A key reason noted by these employers is the fact that more men than women hold senior roles. PwC rightly or wrongly puts the pay difference down to “time in role” and skill set factors, and that the bonus differential is in part caused by mainly a female take up of part time roles, which could suggest that women taking career breaks may have got left behind.

Irrespective of whether this reporting requirement will successfully close the pay gap in our lifetimes, the data will be closely analysed. Reportedly two thirds of relevant employers will be adding to their pay data. Getting the reporting right is critical therefore to being able to analyse and explain any differentials properly, let alone propose future measures to improve the results.