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Gender pay gap worsens in Whitehall

The gender pay gap has grown in seven of the 17 main Whitehall departments, with the Treasury the worst-performing, according to figures from Government departments released last week.

This data, highlighted by Personnel Today, showed that the median hourly wage for women at the Treasury was 16.8% lower than men’s (up from 14.6% last year). Other poorly performing departments included the Department for Education where it was 7.9% (up from 5.3% last year) and at the Cabinet Office, where it was 14.5% lower than men’s (up from 8.8%).

Commenting on these findings, Nicole Sahin, CEO and Founder of  Globalization Partners, said: “In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women - who have borne the brunt of extra childcare, and lost jobs in greater numbers than men. Indeed, according to international institutions, including the UN and the World Economic Forum - the pandemic could set women’s economic progress back half a century.

"Gender equality is good for business. Time and time again, research shows that organisations that have a high percentage of diversity financially outperform their competitors. I’ve seen first-hand the powerful results that occur when people with different perspectives work together. Organisations must keep striving to narrow the pay gap, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is an important aspect of economic growth.”

Figures also show that Liz Truss, the women and equalities minister, runs a department with the second-worst gender pay gap in Whitehall.

Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President at Skillsoft, said: "The unfortunate reality is, that against the tumultuous backdrop of a pandemic-struck Britain, the fight for pay equality has fallen to the wayside for many. In March, the Government Equalities Office effectively suspended the reporting requirement for the year. Whilst employers have understandably shifted their focus to business survival, it is important they don’t lose sight of their gender pay goals - government departments included. Pay gap reporting, in usual circumstances, enables companies to actively recognise and work towards improving the gender pay gap, acting as a benchmark for the entire organisation.

"Resolving the disparity in pay is complex and involves more than merely a number. Employers must ensure every employee has the opportunity to expand their role towards higher-paying positions. This could mean reviewing how your organisation views maternity and paternity leave, addressing unconscious bias, or facilitating professional development. Above all, it’s about making a continued, concerted effort; meaningful change cannot occur overnight.”

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