Gender Pay Gap Reporting: There’s More to the Story Than Meets the Eye

The gender pay gap disparity has long been an issue for organisations across all industries. Thanks to recent Gender Pay Gap Information legislation, all employers in Great Britain with an excess of 250 members of staff are obliged to report on four types of figures annually. These four figures include reporting the mean and medians of both genders pay gap and gender bonus gap, reporting the proportion of men to women receiving bonuses, as well as the proportion of men to women in each quartile of the organisation’s pay structure. Apple, Boux Avenue and Ryanair are just some of the companies who have been under fire after their reports were released. Now that these figures are out in the open, companies are being forced to act.

This is an excellent step in holding companies accountable for gender pay disparity and forcing them to be more transparent however, there is little compulsory reporting surrounding other areas of inequality. Disability and ethnicity related figures are hardly ever reported within firms, but these are just as important as gender inequalities. 

Under the Equality Act from 2010, there are nine areas in which employers must abide by to ensure an equal and fair workplace practice, consistent with the law. Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, breaks down discrimination in the workplace into four types; direct, indirect, harassment and victimisation.

Moreover, under their ‘Obligations for Employers’ document, all employers must make reasonable judgements and ensure policies and practices are put in place to prevent disability discrimination. However, how many employers are abiding by these principles? According to the UK Government, in 2008, only 13% of non-disabled people experienced mistreatment in their workplace compared to 18% of disabled people.

In 2012 there was still a 29.1% employment rate gap between disabled and non-disabled adults aged between 16 to 59. Despite the best intentions of this act to set a precedent for companies to follow, if accurate reporting does not improve, things will not change.

Current statistics show that disability and racism in organisations is just as bad, if not worse than the gender pay gap issue. The big four accountancy firms voluntarily decided to report on ethnic pay gaps in 2017, which was reportedly between 8 and 13% in these firms. These figures are not that different to that of the gender pay gap statistics (in 2016, 9.4%).

To understand the full story and properly grasp the issue of workplace discrimination, the socio-economic backgrounds of employees must be considered. The cultural contexts, as well as internal and external factors which impact pay, must all be considered to achieve a holistic view of the gender issue in practice. Furthermore, gender pay gap reporting isolates one specific issue or statistic, however there are so many other key components that impact this ongoing workplace pay disparity and regulators must hold business leaders accountable for showing the public the bigger picture.

Josephine Shannon