Work Life

Although the gender pay gap has an impact on everyone working at a company, as female employees, we’re the ones who are most directly affected by the issue. Even if we work for organisations that are committed to reducing the gap, knowing that there are still significant differences can be very frustrating.

As a company directly involved in recruitment – and an organisation that takes equality seriously – we’re on the front line in the fight against the gender pay gap. To help get an idea of where women stand in today’s workforce, and to help employers understand how they can make a difference, we’re taking a closer look at the gender pay gap and how it affects businesses across Norfolk.

What is the gender pay gap?

Before we can take a look at why the gender pay gap exists, we need to make sure we understand exactly what it is. The gender pay gap is different to equal pay. Since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in the UK, it’s been illegal for businesses to pay a man more than a woman for the same job. The gender pay gap in an organisation is calculated by looking at the total hourly earnings of men and women. As the people at the top of a business generally earn considerably more than those at the bottom, it’s often an indicator of the gender distribution in the business. For example, if an organisation has a large gender gap, it could well indicate that men dominate the top positions in that organisation while women are largely employed at lower levels.

Reporting the gender pay gap in Norfolk

Earlier this year, all companies in the UK with 250 or more employees had to report their gender and pay statistics to the Government. This has given us a unique insight into how wide the gender pay gap is across the UK. Unfortunately for women, Norfolk suffers similar inequalities to the rest of the country. Although there are a few businesses in the county that are working hard to make a difference, most organisations still pay their male employees significantly more than female workers.

Norfolk Councils are some of the worst offenders when it comes to the gender pay gap. North Norfolk Council has reported paying women 27.5% less than men despite employing 25% more women than men. This shows that the majority of women at the organisation work in low-paying roles while men occupy high-paying positions. However Breckland Council came out even worse than North Norfolk with the district reporting a gender pay gap of 31.5%.

Many schools in the county also reported significant gender pay gaps with some paying men more than 50% more than women. The Evolution Academy Trust was the worst offender with men paid an average of 54% more than women. Gresham’s School in Holt paid male employees 49.5% more than female employees, while at St John the Baptist Catholic Multi-Academy Trust, women lost out by around 46.8% to their male colleagues.

The private sector gender pay gap in Norfolk

As a recruitment company, we deal with a lot of private sector companies in Norfolk. So it was fascinating to see how their gender pay figures stacked up. Like the public sector, it was a fairly mixed bag. While some businesses reported small or even negligible gender pay gaps, there were other organisations where the issue is a real challenge.

The three companies with the poorest performance in Norfolk when it came to the gender pay gap were Insurance company Aviva, construction firm Breheny and audio visual group Midwich. Of the three, Breheny had the largest gender pay gap, compensating men an average of 47% more than women. Midwich fared slightly better with a median figure of 30%, while Aviva reported paying their female employees an average of 28% less than men. As these businesses cross a variety of sectors, it shows that the gender pay gap in Norfolk is not industry specific and affects employees working in all areas.

At the other end of the scale, there were a few businesses that were notable for their low gender pay gap figures. Organisations with a median pay gap of less than 10% included Kettle Foods (5.2%), automotive retailer Desira (6.7%), Kinnerton Confectionery (6.7%) and Thetford’s Baster Healthcare which had a gender pay gap of just 0.7%. Again, these businesses straddle a range of industries, proving that equality in pay is possible in all sectors in Norfolk.

Tackling the gender pay gap in Norfolk

Now that the gender pay gap figures are in, it’s time to do something about them. Although change may not come about over night, all businesses can take steps to help close the gap and bring real gender equality to the workplace.

As we’ve already seen, a lack of women in high-earning positions is a large part of the problem. Recruitment can therefore play an important role in closing the gap. Making businesses more attractive to female employees should help to encourage more women to apply for top jobs. For example, offering more flexible working hours, childcare and other female-friendly conditions will help to make life a lot easier for working mums. These types of provisions are more important than ever as ONS figures reveal that there are now more mothers in full-time work than ever before.

Raising awareness of the gender pay gap, both in Norfolk and the UK in general, is an important step on the road to closing the gap for good. If you run a business that wants to improve levels of equality in the workplace and you’d like to find out more about recruiting high-flying women to your organisation, we can help. Just visit our site and get in touch with a member of our team to find out more.

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