Call to extend gender pay audits to SMEs rejected

The Government has rejected calls to extend gender pay audits to SMEs.

Gender Pay Gap, Wage Inequality


The Government has rejected calls to force medium-sized firms to reveal their gender pay gaps.

At present, firms with more than 250 employees have to publish such data. Responding to a report from the business, energy and industrial strategy committee, which recommended that all companies with more than 50 employees be forced to report their pay gap from 2020, the government said that the threshold to qualify for gender pay gap reporting regulations was consulted on prior to 2017, and over half of respondents agreed with the 250 threshold.

Meanwhile, research was also published by the Boston Consulting Group which shows that three-quarters of employees in diverse groups – women, racial/ethnic minorities, and those who identify as LGBTQ – feel they have not personally benefited from their companies’ diversity programmes. BCG surveyed 16,500 workers across a range of industries in 14 countries, with 1,650 LGBTQ staff polled.  The report suggests that a key impediment to progress is that older men (age 45 or older), who often lead decision-making within corporate environments, are underestimating the obstacles in the recruiting, retention and advancement of female and minority employees by 10% to 15%, as measured by comparison with the estimates of members of those actual groups: women, people of colour and LGBTQ employees. The report also found that employees who do not believe their workplace is committed to diversity and inclusion (D&I) are three times more likely to leave than those who do.

Another study by the Centre for Social Investigation at Nuffield College, Oxford University, has found that non-white minority ethnic applicants had to send 80% more applications to get a positive response from an employer than a white person of British origin. The researchers sent almost 3,200 applications to manual and non-manual jobs – including software engineers, marketing personnel, chefs, and shop assistants. A linked study, comparing the results with similar field experiments dating back to 1969, found discrimination nearly unchanged. Dr Zubaida Haque of the Runnymede Trust described the findings as “shocking”, adding: “It’s clear that race relations legislation is not sufficient to hold employers to account. There are no real consequences for employers of racially discriminating in subtle ways, but for BME applicants or employees it means higher unemployment, lower wages, poorer conditions, and less security in work and life.”


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