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British workers underestimate their employer’s gender pay gap

British workers underestimate their employer’s gender pay gap


HR software provider, CIPHR, polled 1,000 UK employees, the majority of which work at medium- or large-sized companies, to find out more about their attitudes towards the gender pay gap.

When asked to identify the current pay gap, opinions vary wildly – with the mean average answer coming in at 37% (the median was 33%). A third of people (33%) think it’s over 50%. Only one in 20 survey respondents (5%) got it right at 15% or 16%. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the gender pay gap was 15.5% in 2020 (based on median gross hourly earnings for all workers). Only 4% of survey respondents think the UK’s gender pay gap is zero.

CIPHR’s findings suggest that people’s perceptions of their own employers are actually more favourable than reality. Only a third of people (36%) think their employer has a gender pay gap in favour of men, and one in fourteen people (7%) think it’s vice versa – in favour of women.

On average, two-fifths (40%) of workers under-35 feel that their employers pay their male staff more, compared to around a quarter (27%) of workers over-45. Around half of the people working in the arts, entertainment or recreation sectors (54%), finance and insurance (53%), IT and software (51%), HR (50%), and legal services (46%) say the same.

When it comes to job hunting, however, people are much less likely to accept pay gaps – perceived or otherwise. Most women (58%) say they wouldn’t apply for a job with an organisation that has a gender pay gap (compared to 38% of men). Women are also more likely to be averse to working for an organisation that has an ethnic pay gap, compared to men (54% and 37% respectively). For black women, that figure rises to 57%, and for Asian women, it’s 71% (the average for all workers is 47% and for workers from ethnic minority backgrounds it’s 52%).

Being more transparent about the decision-making processes for promotions and career advancement, disclosing salary ranges (including pay and bonuses), using HR systems for reporting and to identify potential areas that need improvement, and introducing minimum gender and diversity quotas at the interview stage, are just some of the ways that organisations can help close – or at least narrow – their gender pay gap.

Looking at pay gap reporting and pay transparency in general, over two-thirds of people believe that gender pay gap reporting and ethnicity pay gap reporting should be mandatory for all UK companies regardless of their size (69% and 61% respectively).

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