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New analysis of gender pay gap figures show the number of businesses publishing their figures has halved this year after the Government said it was not mandatory to do so due to the coronavirus.
The number of organisations who have reported on their gender pay gap has halved since 2019 after the Government suspended the requirement for companies to publish their statistics due to the coronavirus, according to Business in the Community.
In March the UK government suspended the requirement for companies to report their 2019-2020 gender pay gap, although they could still file voluntarily. The decision to lift the requirement came less than two weeks before the 4 April 2020 deadline.
Shortly after the reporting deadline, Business in the Community analysed data reported by organisations over the past three years. It says that, as of 8 April, 5,081 organisations had reported on the government portal. Since then, about 500 additional organisations have reported. Last year, 10,828 organisations had reported by the April 2019 deadline.
At the time of the analysis, BITC says the average UK gender pay gap on a median basis has increased from 11.9% in 2018-19, to 12.8% in 2019-20. Research since lockdown highlights signs that gender equality is being set back as more women take on a greater share of childcare and homeschooling responsibilities while working from home.
Charlotte Woodworth, gender equality campaign director at Business in the Community, said: “Pay gap reporting is a vital tool in understanding and tackling gender inequality at work. If we don’t have a clear picture of women’s status at work entering the crisis, we won’t be able to take the right steps going forward. It is hugely disappointing to see so many opted out when the legal requirement was lifted – and a worrying sign of attitudes towards gender equality during the crisis.
“In these difficult times, businesses that choose to put equality and inclusion at the heart of their response will end up better placed to flourish in the future. We know that more diverse, inclusive workplaces lead to better bottom lines. The choices companies make now will play a vital role in deciding whether we lock in the progress made in recent years, or see women’s standing at work unravel. This crisis could see women’s equality pushed back a generation.”
Business in the Community is urging companies to continue to publish their gender pay figures, ensure cost-cutting measures do not disproportionately impact women, promote policies related to caring responsibilities at this time – for example, flexible working patterns – to male staff and embed remote working into the way jobs are designed in the ‘new normal’.