UK mean hourly pay gap falls to 12.97% in six years

In the past six years, the mean hourly pay gap between UK men and women has reduced from 15.07% to 12.97%, according to data analysis by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.

Its analysis of data from around 5,300 organisations, charities and public sector bodies that have reported their gender pay gaps since mandatory reporting began six years ago, also found that while 65% of UK employers narrowed their average mean gender pay gap between 2017-18 and 2022-23, this gap increased for 34% of organisations.

Furthermore, while the average mean gender pay gap for those reporting a closing gap dropped from 19.1% in 2017-18 to 12.5% in 2022-23, the average for those reporting a widening gap rose from 11.5% to 17.6% during the same period.

At the current rate of progress, BDO has estimated that it will take 37 years to close the mean hourly gender pay gap and 63 years to close the median pay gap, with the financial services, construction and technology industries exhibiting the most substantial hourly gaps.

However, there has been an increase in the number of women in higher pay grades over the six-year period to 2022-23. There has been a 4.9% increase in the number of women in the upper quarter of the hourly pay scale to 40.69%, and a 2% increase in the upper middle quarter to 45.68%.

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David Ellis, head of strategic reward advisory at BDO, said: “While there has always been a lively debate over the usefulness of the gender pay gap reporting statistics in terms of measuring progress, they do serve an important purpose in keeping attention focused on this very important issue.

“While progress in reducing gender pay gaps may seem somewhat glacial, we are nevertheless now beginning to see some important emerging trends, notably the increase in female representation at the higher pay scale levels. This is undoubtedly an encouraging development and arguably more positive than the modest changes we’ve seen in the headline gender pay gap figures themselves.”