Companies have been publishing figures in fits and starts ahead of the Gender Pay Gap data deadline of 6th April. This year, a number of major leading businesses have revealed that they have gender pay gaps of more than 15% in favour of men for mean hourly pay.
The gap between women and men earning over £100,000 a year in the UK has widened by 23% over the last five years, new research has revealed.
A report from Wilsons Solicitors shows that there are now 470,500 fewer women earning more than £100,000 than men across the country. The figure was around 383,400 in the financial year 2010/11. While 625,600 men now earn over £100,000, only 155,100 women do.
How's tech holding up?
From the time of writing, 25 companies in the 'information and communication' industry have released their gender pay data. On average, women are paid 17% less. Across all industries, tech roles see a 25% gap, compared to the UK average, which is 18%.
The industry is still overwhelmingly represented by men, but is more balanced among lower-level roles. In line with other industries, this reflects the lack of progression for women and segregation of women into "pink collar" clerical nontechnical/specialist roles.
An analysis of the Gender Pay Gap figures shows that the split at junior support level is 51% male, this rises to 75% at the mid-level professional level and peaks at executive jobs, with women comprising just 13% of the workforce, compared to UK norms twice that.
In tech, men and women are rated equally on performance at each of these levels, but men are still twice as likely to reach management level, and men receive 20% more in terms of bonuses.
Making technical roles more appealing to women
Many firms in tech are taking active steps to make the industry more attractive to women by reforming workplace policies and encouraging graduates. Already women in STEM fields are taking up new roles in tech. In 2016, Fujitsu reported 36% of their graduate intake in 2014 were women. In 2017, that number has risen to 49%.
This is a positive start, but the biggest gap in gender pay in tech is in the older generation and the senior level positions. Over time, investing in new blood will help balance this out, but there is more we can do.
Making women more appealing to businesses
Each year, studies such as one from accountancy firm Grant Thornton in 2015, Women in business: the value of diversity, point out that companies perform better when they have at least one woman on the board.
It isn't all about pay
One of the criticisms to the gender pay gap, some argue, is that the gender pay gap is not the same thing as having equal pay.
For example, the rules around maternity pay, paternity pay and parental leave skew the figures. While both parents can share up to 39 weeks of leave, mothers currently benefit from the first six weeks of leave being paid at 90 per cent of their normal earnings, while fathers’ statutory entitlements to parental pay are capped at £140.98 a week.
This means that the first six weeks of statutory maternity leave offer greater financial benefits than either of the paternity or parental leave entitlements that are available to men. Therefore, this should be taken into account when considering equal pay.
Big businesses are, rightly, worried about the impact this will have on their business and their talent retention.
Four-fifths of 1,000 senior managers believe reporting a gender pay gap will damage the reputation of organisations, according to a report by the Financial Times. More than three-quarters said organisations would be likely to lose staff over the issue, while 73% believed the worst offenders would find it harder to recruit.
It's not just about transparency
The fact of the matter is that there is a generations-long gender pay gap across all industries that needs addressing. It seems that the tech industry has to work on its reputation as a sector that is diverse and inclusive of anyone with the talent and qualifications to succeed.
The gender pay gap isn't closing any time soon, and highlighting the issue through pay gap reporting is only the first step.
For women keen to enter the tech industry today, a gender pay gap is a known obstacle. But the tech companies that are open about the action they are taking to close that gap are the ones that will be most attractive to up and coming talent.