Management

The gender pay gap in 2019: still work in progress

The gender pay gap is still well and truly with us:

  • Skilled agricultural workers (senior farmers and landscape designers) were the only employees to have closed the gender pay gap for their sector in 2019
  • The remaining 25 industries analysed, revealed women still earn disproportionately less than their male colleagues. Differences ranged from £348 to £10,006 less per year
  • Women could be earning up to £12,319 less per year than their male colleagues within the same age and job group – up £370 from last year’s figures
  • The pay gap is even worse in incentive-based or bonus pay with men being paid up to 46% more in bonuses across certain industries

New research from digital bank Starling, reveals that the gender pay gap is present in 2019 across all but one industry: skilled agricultural workers. The remaining 25 industries analysed revealed men to be consistently occupying more of the higher paid jobs.

The position has not moved from last year when skilled agricultural workers were again the only group where women are paid more than men. Over the last five years, the only other group of employees to reverse the pay gap has been secretaries and receptionists, who are now enjoying near-equal pay in 2019 with a pay gap of only 1.6%.

In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, the UK has dropped 6 places in the gender pay gap rankings internationally.

Process, plant and machine operator operators – typically found in the textile, chemical, and beverage sectors – are shown to have the largest pay gap. There is a 25% difference in annual earnings (across all age ranges) in this sector which means that women in the industry take home £6,350 less than men.

Jobs with the largest pay gaps are:

  • Process, plant and machine operators: -25% (on average women earn £6,350 less than men)
  • Business and public service technicians: –21% (an average shortfall of £8,293)
  • Skilled builders: –21% (on average women earn £5,934 less than men)

In contrast, the industries that are closest to equal pay are skilled agricultural workers, secretaries and receptionists, and jobs in culture, media, and sports.

The jobs paying women more

There are a few areas where women are paid more than their male counterparts. Secretary and receptionist roles paid women more than their male colleagues in both the 18-21 and 50-59 age groups. Women in this sector and age range earned 6% (£884) and 0.65% (£140) more than their male colleagues of the same age respectively.

The skilled agriculture industry, which includes farmers, landscape gardeners and groundskeepers was the only sector out of the 26 studied to have a positive pay gap overall. On average, women earnt 0.69% or £142 more per year than their male colleagues in this industry. Women in the 40-49 age range in these sectors saw the biggest advantage, being paid on average 7% more than men, around £1,615 more per year based on the average salary.

The bonus gender pay gap

It’s not just annual salary that the gender pay gap can be seen in. Bonus pay, or incentive pay, is a financial reward for performance which is paid on top of an employee’s annual salary. While not all industries offer incentive pay, among those that report on bonuses, the pay gap is stark.

Industries with the largest bonus pay gaps are process, plant and machine operators (a 46% gap, equivalent to £422), business and public service technicians such as brokers and financial advisors (a 44% gap, equivalent to £1,914), and sales (a 6% gap, equivalent to £274).

Interestingly the bonus gap varies by age with older women (50 to 59) experiencing a gap of 35% while younger women experience a positive bonus gap of 3%.

According to Sharon Peake, gender diversity expert and founder of Shape Talent, the gap indicates that there are fewer women in senior levels in the workplace. “Enabling more women to access leadership roles is what is needed to address the gender pay gap and there is still more work to be done here.”

And what can be done? Helping alleviate the double burden of family and work responsibilities, by ensuring flexible work arrangements, is an important first step. Some companies are taking this further with paternity leave policies that enable men to participate more fully at home.

Sharon Peake also feels that “It is also important to make a clear commitment to gender balance in a business’s senior leadership team, actively working to de-bias recruitment and promotion processes, and putting in place leadership development support to help women address the barriers they face.” And that will be a substantial cultural challenge.

Businesses that are interested in exploring their own gender pay gap may want to try out the Starling Bank gender pay gap tool.


This article on the UK’s gender pay gap uses variables of age and sector to uncover just how much pay differs between the sexes. Data was taken from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2019 report, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) and refers to the most recent 2018-2019 tax year.

The article was researched and written by Starling, a leading digital bank, founded in 2014 and voted Best British Bank in 2018 and 2019. Its retail banking app offers personal, business and joint current accounts on Android and iOS. The Starling Marketplace allows customers to in-app access to a curated selection of third-party financial services. Starling also offers groundbreaking B2B banking and payments services. Starling is a fintech business with a banking licence, fully regulated by the FCA and PRA. It is directly connected to major payment schemes, including Faster Payments, SEPA, Bacs and MasterCard.

Image courtesy on iStockPhoto.com.

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