The number of organisations reporting their gender pay gap has fallen compared to before the pandemic, the CIPD has said, with the latest figures also showing a slight widening of the gap.
As the extended deadline for larger companies to report their gender pay gap data passed on Tuesday (5 October), analysis of the latest figures by the HR body showed that just 9,627 firms had submitted their data for 2020-21.
This was an 11 per cent drop from the 10,827 firms that had disclosed their data by the reporting deadline for 2018-19.
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The UK’s equalities watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, suspended reporting requirements for 2019-20 in recognition of the impact that the coronavirus was having on employers, with just 6,150 firms reporting their data that year.
Enforcement for reporting figures for 2020-21 was also pushed back six months, in effect extending the reporting deadline for employers.
While the drop in the number of firms reporting their pay gaps could be because there are fewer companies meeting the reporting requirement of employing at least 250 people, the CIPD has warned this could be an indication that pay gap reporting has been less of a priority for employers.
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Charles Cotton, senior policy adviser for reward and recognition at the CIPD, said it was “disappointing” that the number of organisations reporting their pay gap had fallen, and urged firms that hadn’t reported yet to do so as soon as possible.
“Evidence suggests that economically, women have been adversely and disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and now is not a time to be taking the foot of the pedal when it comes to equality in the workplace,” he said.
Cotton also renewed calls for the publication of a narrative to be made a mandatory part of reporting, saying it was “more important than ever that employers don’t just report figures.”
“[Employers] need to fully engage and understand the reason for any gap and be transparent about how they plan to tackle it and improve gender equality in the workplace,” he said. “Until narratives and action plans become compulsory, we encourage employers and our members to publish them voluntarily.”
Analysis of the data by the CIPD showed around two-thirds (65 per cent) of companies that submitted data also included a link to more information on their pay gaps, which could suggest that more than a third are not providing any form of narrative – although the CIPD also noted that the inclusion of a link did not necessarily mean a company has published a narrative.
Previously, around 69 per cent of companies provided a link to more information.
The CIPD also found a slight increase in the median pay gap – the most commonly cited statistic which looks at the difference in pay between middle-earning men and women – which increased from 9.5 per cent to 10.4 per cent. This means that, on average, women are earning roughly 90p for every £1 earned by men.
The overall mean figure remained virtually unchanged at 13.3 per cent.