Two thirds of the gender pay gap is unexplained- says ONS

Labour Party

Yesterday I wrote about the corporate firm Citigroup and how it is championing pay equity after it reported the smallest pay gap on record. The news was positive and provided some inspiration for other city firms to aspire to.

However, today the news is more sobering and less optimistic after reports from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found the gender pay gap is alive and kicking.

Two thirds of Britain’s gender pay gap is ‘unexplained’ The ONS warned. This means the usual explanations given for the pay gap such as women working part time and the relative lack of senior women in the work place does not apply for almost two thirds of the pay gap.

When the ONS conducted its research in October 2017 the gender pay gap was 9.1%. They were able to account for a proportion of this gap and could cite reasons given above, i.e. more men in senior roles which attract a higher salary and more women working part time.

But when they adjusted the figures to take account of this they found they could only account for 36.1% of the median hourly pay gap, which meant the rest of it (63.9% was unexplained). While the ONS said it can’t all be down to pay discrimination it would nevertheless form part of the explanation.

Of the 36.1% it could account for 23% related to occupational differences the male and female workforce. Some 9% was attributed to the fact that more women work part time.

While overall the gap has fallen slightly since 2016 (down from 9.4% in 2016 to 9.1% in 2017) and is now at the lowest recorded percent since the ONS started calculating the figures in 1997 there is still huge work to be done before this gap can be closed completely.

I have previously called for mandatory quotas for women on executive boards which would go some way to reducing the figure- as the ONS figures highlight part of the problem is a lack of women in senior and leadership roles. It is not acceptable that a gap is in existence at all and certainly not in 2018 one that sits at just under 10%.