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Girls & Women

78% of UK Companies Pay Men More Than Women, Final Figures Reveal

The deadline for large British firms to report the truth about their gender pay gap has expired, as of midnight on Wednesday. 

And the results are fairly shocking: of large companies in the UK, 78% pay men more on average than women. The median gap in pay is 9.7%, an analysis by the BBC found. The full set of results can be found here.

Take action: Sexist Laws Have No Place in 2018. Agree? Tell Governments to Act

The revelation comes after firms with over 250 staff had to publish data on the average difference between what male and female employees are paid. 

Gender equality charity Fawcett Society called the nationwide gender gap reporting a “game changer” in terms of workplace culture and practices. 

“It forces employers to look at themselves and understand their organisations and it prompts employees to ask some hard questions,”Sam Smethers, the charity’s chief executive, told The Telegraph in response to the findings.

Read more: Iceland Starts 2018 in Style by Making Gender Pay Gap Illegal

“But even better than that, finally women are realising that they have a right to talk about pay and they cannot be silenced,” she said. “By finding out what their colleagues earn they are then in a position to challenge any pay inequality. It is much more common that people realise.” 

The pay gap isn’t just a problem across a few sectors either, according to the data, but across every single sector. However, the biggest gaps were seen in construction, finance and insurance, education, mining, and communication.

Smaller gaps were found among household employers, in the accommodation and food sector, health, arts and entertainment, and retail. 

Meanwhile, 8% of companies reported no pay gap, while 14% said they pay women more — including retailer Mamas and Papas, and electric car firm Tesla Motors.

Read more: Starbucks Just Ensured Women Will Earn the Same as Men

For individual companies, the airline Ryanair reported a difference of 71.8%, which it said is because it employs 546 male pilots and just eight female. 

Apple revealed that 71% of its top-earning employees were men, while London fashion label Karen Miller reported a gap of 49%. Other high street brands that appeared in the worst 2% of all companies were Phase Eight and Sweaty Betty. 

Among the major banks, JP Morgan revealed the biggest gap, of 54%, but said that the gap is smaller for its UK businesses as a whole, including those with fewer than 250 employees — at 26%. Goldman Sachs reported a gap of 36.4%, and HSBC reported a 29% gap. 

By law, men and women who are doing equal jobs have to be paid the same wages. But the gender pay gap isn’t as simple as paying men more than their female peers. 

Read more: BBC Says It Will Make Sure Half of Its On-Air Experts Are Women

It comes instead from having more men in higher paid positions, for example; or if a woman’s experience isn’t as valued; from differences in bonuses paid out; and if women’s salaries are affected by taking maternity leave. 

Over 10,000 companies published their findings across the country, with more than 1,000 of these releasing the data on the last day before the deadline. Data that has been published can be found here.

And those that didn’t publish data before the deadline are facing action.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which can prosecute large companies that didn't report their data, is looking at around 1,500 companies. It’s reported that the EHRC will be sending letters to all those organisations on Monday, and they will then have 28 days to respond. 

Read more: 12 Weeks of Paternity Leave Would Address the Gender Pay Gap, Say MPs

“We’re obviously pleased with the rate of reporting, but it is the law, it’s not an option,” Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the EHRC, told the BBC. “It is the right thing to do, and we will be enforcing against all those organisations which failed to meet the deadline.” 

“This is going to be a very public affair,” she added. “It will impact quite considerably on members of the public, people who work for them, and you’ll see a growing backlash against people who aren’t complying.” 

According to Hilsenrath, companies must take a number of steps to address the gap. These include improving their flexible working practices, tackling bias both conscious and unconscious, and addressing discrimination around pregnancy and maternity pay. 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, which include action for gender equality. You can join us by taking action on this issue here. In the run-up to the Commonwealth Summit in London, we’re calling on world leaders to remove or reform sexist laws. Take action on gender equality now — and you can earn free tickets to Global Citizen Live on April 17 to see Emeli Sandé, Professor Green and more at O2 Academy Brixton.