Most staff underestimate employer’s gender pay gap

While nearly all workers agree that the UK has a gender pay gap, more than half (57%) do not believe there are gender pay disparities in their own workplace.

HR software provider CIPHR polled 1,000 UK employees, the majority of which work at medium- or large-sized companies, to find out more about their attitudes towards the gender pay gap. The survey results reveal a significant disconnect between the reality and perception of men’s and women’s earnings in the same organisation, a divide it suggests which could potentially be helping to perpetuate a gap.

When asked to identify the current pay gap, the mean estimate was 37% (the median was 33%). One third of people (33%) believed it was over 50% and only 5% correctly estimated 15% or 16%.

Only 4% of survey respondents think the UK’s gender pay gap is zero. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the gender pay gap based on median gross hourly earnings for all workers was 15.5% in 2020.

The deadline for employers to report their 2020-21 gender pay gap, which looks at snapshot data in their organisations on 31 March and 5 April 2020 for the public and private sector respectively, is on 5 October 2021.

Looking at the data from the 6,144 employers who have published their gender pay gap figures for the 2020-21 reporting year so far, four out of every five organisations pay men more. Only one in eight (12.6%) pays women more, and 7.6% reports having no pay gap. The median hourly pay gap, which these calculations are based on, is 13%, according to CIPHR.

Only a third of people (36%) think their employer has a gender pay gap in favour of men, and one in fourteen people (7%) think it’s vice versa – in favour of women. Most people (59% of women and 52% of men) perceive no pay gap at the organisation that they work for at all.

On average, 40% of workers aged under 35 feel that their employers pay their male staff more, compared to around a quarter 27% of workers over 45.

Claire Williams, director of people and services at CIPHR, said: “It’s interesting to see that so many people trust their employers not to have a gender pay gap – particularly when so many do and when this information is publicly available.

“These results highlight the importance of reporting and communicating gender pay gap figures and what they mean to employees. However employers should use the gender pay gap reporting legislation as an opportunity to really use the data to drive change within their organisation and not just as a ‘tick box’ exercise.”