Women less likely to have successfully asked for a pay rise than men, poll finds

Findings come on today’s final deadline for this year’s gender pay gap reporting as watchdog warns of enforcement action against non-compliant firms

Janie Airey/Getty Images

Women are less likely to have successfully asked for a pay compared to men, research has revealed, as employers are warned to report their gender pay gaps by today’s deadline or face enforcement action.

A survey of 16,000 people, conducted by YouGov, found that just one in five (21 per cent) women have successfully asked for a pay rise, compared to nearly a third (31 per cent) of men.

It found that women were far less likely to have asked for a pay increase then men; nearly two thirds (60 per cent) of women said they had never requested a raise, compared to 48 per cent of men.


Government launches initiatives to ‘level up’ opportunities for working women

Women hold less than two in five senior management positions, research finds

Government will not introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting


However, the research found that women were nearly as successful as men when they did ask for a raise: 63 per cent of women received a pay increase on asking, compared to 68 per cent of men.

Commenting on the findings, Charles Cotton, senior performance and reward adviser at the CIPD, encouraged employers to be transparent with their employees about how pay is determined and managed.

This meant making sure “employees know why they’re being paid what they are and what needs to happen for them to be able to get a pay rise or promotion", he said.


Get more HR and employment law news like this delivered straight to your inbox every day – sign up to People Management’s PM Daily newsletter


However, Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of The Fawcett Society, cautioned that in general women faced “real risks to asking for more money”, particularly when it comes to behaviour between employees in the office. 

“Evidence shows men working with women who ask [for a pay increase] are more likely to say they are someone they don’t want to work with as a result,” she explained, adding that she has observed that when women ask for a rise.

The YouGov survey found that the gender gap between who successfully asks for pay rises widens among older workers.

For 18 to 29-year-olds, the rate of requesting wage increases was relatively even: 18 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women said they had asked for a pay rise and received at least one. 

Meanwhile, there was a 12 percentage point difference between men in their thirties who successfully asked for a pay rise (31 per cent) and women of the same age who had done the same (19 per cent). 

For people over 70, a third (34 per cent) of men said they had successfully asked for a pay rise, compared with around a quarter (23 per cent) of women.

Olchawski explained that as women have children – usually around their thirties – they need greater flexibility at work to manage unpaid care. “That can mean women feel unable to ask for raises where flexibility is seen as a luxury,” she said.

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, director of the Women’s Budget Group, agreed: “Compared to men, women are more likely to work part time once they have children, so perhaps there is some judgement being made by employers about the value of part-time work,” she said, adding this was “evidence of how employers stereotype a woman’s ability to do her job and her commitment to it once she has children”.

Stephenson suggested businesses offer more flexible working and progressive parental leave policies that “encourage equal sharing of care” so that women in their thirties are not penalised when they have children.

The figures come on the deadline for private, voluntary and some public sector employers, to report their gender pay gap data for the following year. (The deadline for the majority of public sector employers was last Wednesday).

Last week, the UK’s equalities watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), issued a warning that it would start enforcement action against any employer who does not comply with reporting requirements by the deadline. 

Those failing to follow the statutory compliance notice will face a court order, it said, and it will make details of any employers that it investigates available on its website.