The UK’s gender pay gap is closing only gradually, with two-thirds (65%) of employers revealing a reduction in the six years since reporting became mandatory, according to new figures released today (13 September).
Analyss by BDO showed that the mean hourly pay gap between the sexes has only modestly shrunk by 2.1%, from 15.07% to 12.97%, in the same period from 2017/18 to 2022/23.
The accountancy and business advisory firm further found that the gap had widened for a third (34%) of companies.
BDO’s study, which involved around 5,300 organisations, including charities and public sector bodies, discovered that among those reporting a shrinking gap, the average mean gender pay gap fell from 19.1% in 2017/18 to 12.5% in 2022/23. Among companies with a growing gap, this increased from 11.5% to 17.6% in the same timeframe.
Based on this rate of progress, BDO predicts that the mean and median pay gaps will take 37 and 63 years to close respectively.
The study also showed that the greatest hourly pay gaps were in sectors including the financial services, construction and technology.
In terms of representation of female employees in higher pay grades, the analysis revealed a positive and notable rise, with an increase of 4.9% and 2.0% more women in the upper quarter and upper middle quarter of the hourly wage scale respectively.
According to BDO, this trend represents “a critical shift and one that is likely to have the most significant impact when it comes to closing the gender pay gap”.
David Ellis, head of strategic reward advisory at BDO, said: “While there has always been a lively debate over the usefulness of the gender pay gap reporting statistics in terms of measuring progress, they do serve an important purpose in keeping attention focused on this very important issue.
“While progress in reducing gender pay gaps may seem somewhat glacial, we are nevertheless now beginning to see some important emerging trends, notably the increase in female representation at the higher pay scale levels. This is undoubtedly an encouraging development and arguably more positive that the modest changes we’ve seen in the headline gender pay gap figures themselves.”