Gender pay gap widening in five Whitehall departments

New figures show gender gap falling across the Civil Service, but rising in five departments, sometimes significantly so.

Gender Pay Gap

 

The overall median gender pay gap for all staff across the Civil Service has narrowed over the past year, but the gender pay gap in five government departments has grown, according to figures released this week.

The figures show the overall median gender pay gap for the Civil Service fell from 12.7% in 2017 down to 12.2%. This compares to an average 23.8% in the private sector and 19% for the public sector as a whole. The mean gender pay gap for the Civil Service is lower at 9.8%, down from 10.6% in 2017.

Despite this narrowing, the Civil Service says that movement is gradual and in some departments the gap has widened since reporting last year. These departments are the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Exiting the European Union, Department for International Development, Department for International Trade and HM Treasury. The biggest increase is in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport where the gap increased from 8.2% to 22.9%. This was blamed in part on external hiring of senior men and the need for people with more digital skills. The Department said women often suffered a “loyalty penalty” by staying with their employer and getting incremental pay rises instead of moving around and negotiating a higher salary in a new job.

In the Department for Exiting the European Union the gap widened from 8.9% to 14.5%;  in the Department for International Trade it rose from 2.7% to 9.4%; in the Department for International Development it increased from 6.8% to 9.1%; and in the Treasury it widened from 13.7% to 14.8%. The biggest fall in the gender pay gap was in the Department of Transport, where the gap decreased from 22.6% to 15.6%.

The main cause of the gender pay gap is the imbalance in representation of women at all grades and across all departments, agencies, functions and professions. The Civil Service says it has made “steady progress” towards more equal representation of women and men across all grades, especially in the Senior Civil Service. It says the proportion of SCS who are women is now 43.1%, an increase of 7.9% since 2010. However, it states that women’s representation, especially at grades 6, 7 and in the SCS, “is still not what it should be”.

Some of the tactics it is employing to reduce the gap include the use of software that ensures job adverts for senior roles don’t contain gender-biased wording. The Civil Service aims to make this common practice in all recruitment in the near future. Departments are also widening awareness of flexible working opportunities, including home working and job sharing and working to expand the reach of its accelerated development initiatives, such as the Future Leaders and Senior Leaders schemes.

Additionally, the Civil Service Positive Action Pathway – a development programme to give participants up to Grade 6 the skills and confidence to realise their potential – is available in departments and agencies where data shows a need to provide this opportunity to female employees.

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll for the Guardian shows between 30% and 40% of British people do not think those from minority ethnic backgrounds face greater discrimination than white people in areas of life such as jobs, education and access to finance. Asked about specific areas of life, the majority of those polled thought minorities faced less or the same discrimination as white people in the workplace (54%), and in access to finance (57%), jobs (52%), university (52%) and good schooling (54%). Dr Zubaida Haque, deputy director of the thinktank the Runnymede Trust, said the findings showed “how much further we need to go to get people (including employers and policy decision-makers) to understand casual, unconscious or overt racist attitudes.”



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