Thanks to a government initiative aiming to close the gender pay gap by improving transparency, any organisation which employs more than 250 people will have to reveal their payroll data by April 2018.
Some of the UK’s most well-known brands have published their figures ahead of the spring deadline, and the results are pretty shocking.
Fashion brand Phase Eight reported the worst imbalance so far, revealing that women working for the company are paid, on average, 64.8% lower than men.
Considering the brand is aimed at women, it’s particularly disappointing that the company has failed to properly remunerate those that work for them.
Speaking to the BBC, the company’s chief executive Benjamin Barnett said the shocking figure was not a true reflection of the business because most of the company’s male employees worked in head office where salaries are higher, as opposed to sales positions in stores, a role that is more frequented by the brand’s female employees.
Barnett confirmed that of Phase Eight’s 44 male employees, 39 of them work in corporate roles and said that he expected other fashion brands to show similar findings.
However, this contrasts strongly with fashion and gifts brand Oliver Bonas which reported a much lower pay gap, an average of 9.6%. Retail clothing company Diesel, reported an even lower pay gap of 6.2% and appears to have a more equally split workforce with 49% of women occupying roles in the more senior positions.
Other popular brands highlighted for large pay gaps are budget airline Easyjet and Virgin Money.
Female employees at Easyjet receive, on average, 51.7% lower pay and make up only 10% of senior roles. The airline says that women and men doing the same role do receive equal pay, and the reason for this disparity is because only 6% of women are pilots, a role which the BBC reports pays around £92,400 a year. Whereas, the majority of cabin crew are women, a role with an average annual salary of £24,800.
Easyjet claims that they will set a target that by 2020 one in five of new pilots should be female. This still feels hugely disproportionate and makes even more of a case for campaigns like Stylist’s Visible Women, which sets out to educate younger generations on inspiring women throughout history, and encourage them into male-dominated industries.
Virgin Money, which pays female employees, on average, 32.5% less than men, has been unable to guarantee that men and women doing the same role are paid equally. The company said it was “confident” that they were, but only have 35% of senior roles currently being filled by women.
So far only 534 employers out of the 9,000 expected to take part have published their figures (the extent of which can be seen on gov.uk).
The initiative was introduced in the Equality Act 2010, which asked UK companies to provide information on the average hourly pay difference between male and female staff by 6 April 2018.
The percentages reported are a reflection of the overall pay discrepancy between men and women, irrespective of their job or position. Companies are already supposed to pay men and women the same amount for the same job but these figures highlight how many more men occupy senior roles compared to women.
Twitter users have been sharing their opinions on the topic, with some seeming to miss the point of the initiative, confusing the difference between the gender pay gap and equal pay.
One social media user tweeted a mock conversation which alluded that she had confused the two terms.
‘OMG women’s pay is 52% less than men’s on average at easyJet’— Kerry Hughes (@RocksteadyMMA) January 6, 2018
‘For doing the same job?’
‘No they get paid equally for equal jobs...’
‘So what you’re saying is that more women choose to be stewardesses and more men to train as pilots?’
Others were quick to explain the need for reports like these as they highlight the realness of the glass ceiling.
One Twitter user wrote, “UK businesses justifying their #GenderPayGap (Phase Eight 64.8%, EasyJet 52%, Virgin Money 33%, Ladbrokes 15%) by claiming it’s due to fact that men have higher positions in company! EXACTLY, that’s the whole point! Men in management and women on shop-floor.”
UK businesses justifying their #GenderPayGap (Phase Eight 64.8%, EasyJet 52%, Virgin Money 33%, Ladbrokes 15%) by claiming it’s due to fact that men have higher positions in company! EXACTLY, that’s the whole point! Men in management and women on shop-floor.— Helen Russell (@helengoth) January 6, 2018
Although not many, there are some companies that have published findings more in women’s favour.
With thousands more companies yet to publish their gender pay gap reports, the next few months look to be very telling.
Images: iStock / Alex Holyoake