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June 27, 2022updated 26 Sep 2022 1:42pm

Half of UK companies report an increase in gender pay gap

By Zoya Malik

The overall average gender pay gap is continuing to narrow but very slowly, according to PwC analysis. Among companies that disclose their pay gaps each year, there has been a small decline of 0.3% from an average pay gap of 13.2% in 2020/21 to 12.9% in 2021/22. That means, on average women in the UK earn 87p for every £1 men earn.

  • The national average (mean) gender pay gap is now 12.9% (down 0.3% from last year), the national average (mean) gender bonus gap is 32.5%
  • Since reporting began, five years ago in 2017, the mean gender pay gap has declined by only 0.5%. The median pay gaps indicates slightly more volatility with an increase from 9.2% 2017/18 to 9.8% in 2021/22
  • 1,826 more companies reported their gender pay gap details this year (2021/2022), taking the total to 10,282
  • Almost half (43%) of the companies disclosing their data this year reported an increase in their average pay gap. Compared to 41% of 8,456 companies reporting an increase last year (2020/21). This year, 53% of companies reported a decrease in their gender pay gap, 4% reported no change
  • 52% of companies have reported a reduction in their average bonus gap compared to 53% reporting a decrease last year. 44% of companies reported an increase in their gender bonus gap, 4% reported no change

PwC’s analysis has shown that overall, average pay and bonus gaps have decreased since 2017. Between 2017/18, when reporting first became mandatory for UK companies with over 250 employees, and 2021/22, the average mean gender pay gap has fallen by 0.5%, from 13.4% to 12.9% this year. However the median pay gap has increased by 0.6% from 9.2% 2017/18 to 9.8% in 2021/22. The mean bonus gap has fallen by 3.3% from 35.8% in 2017/18 to 32.5% in 2021/22. Likewise, the median bonus gap has fallen 2.8% from 19.5% in 2017/18 to 16.7% in 2021/22. 

Since last year, the majority of companies’ pay gaps have changed by only plus or minus 5%, showing that most organisations continue to struggle with making impactful changes to the gap, and that significant change may take a long time. 

Katy Bennett, Diversity and Inclusion Consulting Director, at PwC UK, comments, “If the current rate of progress continues – so far achieving a 0.5% reduction over five years  – the UK’s gender pay gap won’t disappear until 2151. A century – five more generations of women – is too long to wait. Businesses are facing a number of challenges but there is a massive opportunity to stand out from the crowd for those that take action, think bigger and experiment with new ideas. 

“With one in five employees planning to quit their jobs in the next 12 months companies need to be doing everything they can to attract and keep talent. A large and persistent gender pay gap could get in the way of attracting and retaining talented people. The gender pay gap is an important metric when looking at issues facing women in work more broadly. You have to take a holistic approach to make a meaningful difference to pay gaps.”  

A sector view

Over the last year, there has been an increase in the mean average gender pay gaps in 10 sectors, with the biggest increases in Agriculture (the sector’s average gender pay gap increased by 4.6% to 13.2%) and Travel sectors (increase of 3.9% to 17.6%). Financial Services, including Banking (28.9%) and Investment (25.7%), continue to have some of the highest average pay gaps, however there was a small (less than 2%*) reduction in the average gender pay gap in each sub sector in 2021/22.

The sectors that made the biggest reductions to their average gender pay gaps over the last year were Mining, Energy and Real Estate. The average gender pay gap in the Mining sector decreased by 5.4% to 17%, in the Energy sector it decreased by 3.4% to 17.5% and Real Estate by 3.1% to 25.1%. 64% of Energy and 70% of Real Estate companies reported a reduction in their average gap for 2021/22. 

A recent report by PwC and POWERful Women showed that while there are some encouraging signs in the Energy sector of progress on gender diversity and inclusion, the industry still has a long way to go. The report found that within the Energy sector, women only occupy 15% of executive director positions – up just 1% from 2021-  and only 20 out of 80 UK energy companies have any women in executive director roles.

Impact of the pandemic on women workers

The lack of fluctuation in the national average pay gap figures does not reveal the full impact of the pandemic on women in work. PwC’s Women in Work Index found that there are 5.1 million more women unemployed and 5.2 million fewer women participating in the labour market than would be the case had the pandemic not occurred. Katy comments: “Businesses, such as those in the Travel sector, who experienced the highest jump in pay gaps, will need to be looking at how the disruption of the pandemic, the mass exodus from workplaces, and subsequent restructuring has impacted the gender diversity and pay gaps in their businesses.” The Women in Work index found that closing the gender pay gap could boost women’s earnings across the 20 OECD countries by US$2 trillion per annum. 

The environment affecting women in work and gender pay gaps is getting more complex. The restructuring of sectors and businesses post pandemic, inflationary pressures on the costs of living, including childcare, and the low growth predictions for the UK economy threaten progress. 

Learn more about the survey:

  1. The full PwC report on the gender pay gap in 2022 is here. Data has been sourced from the Government website covering companies who reported up to and including the 5 April 2022 deadline. The data set includes all companies which have uploaded their Gender Pay Gap information regardless of whether it was a legal reporting requirement or a voluntary disclosure. The median gender pay gap is calculated by businesses ranking all their people by their pay and comparing what the woman in the middle of the female pay range received with what the man in the middle of the male pay range received. The difference between the two figures is the median gender pay gap. The mean gender pay gap is calculated by companies adding together all the hourly pay rates that women receive, divided by the number of women in the workforce, and the same for men. The difference between these figures is the mean gender pay gap.
  2. The average gender pay gap reduced in Banking by -1.7% and in Investment by -1.4%.
  3. Each year POWERful Women, in partnership with PwC, measures the performance of the top 80 UK energy companies with regard to the number of women at board and executive board member level. This year for the first time we have also compiled data on the executive pipeline (combined executive committee and direct reports) for all companies where available. The top 80 companies are defined by the most significant employers in the UK energy industry. Data was sourced and verified directly from companies or compiled from publicly available sources. Data was accurate as at April 2022. The full set of PfW statistics by company for 2022 are available to view here
  4. The Women In Work Index can be found here http://pwc.co.uk/womeninwork. The report found women leaving the workforce during the pandemic was caused partially by childcare and domestic work responsibilities, but also due to more women being employed in the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, such as hospitality and retail. The five indicators that make up the Women in Work Index are: the gender pay gap, the female labour force participation rate, the gap between male and female labour force participation rates, the female unemployment rate, and the female full-time employment rate.
  5. In March 2022, for the Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey, PwC surveyed 52,195 individuals who are in work or active in the labour market. The sample was structured across 44 countries and territories and sample sizes were scaled to reflect each territory or region’s share of global GDP. The sample size for the UK is 2086. 
    1. PwC’s Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey found that almost one in five UK workers say they are likely to switch to a new employer within the next 12 months. 
    2. The survey confirmed that gender remains a factor in how people feel at work: Women were 10 points less likely than men to say they are fairly rewarded financially: 31% of women agreed they were fairly rewarded versus 41% of men.
    3. In the UK, only 23% of women responding to the survey plan to ask for a raise over the next year compared to 30% of men. 
    4. Women were less likely to ask for a promotion (19%) compared to men (25%), and feel that a request for one is more likely to fall on deaf ears – as women are 8 points less likely than men to feel their manager listens to them.
    5. While 35% of women respondents in the UK said their job requires specialist training compared to 46% of men. 

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