[Mythbuster] The Gender Pay Gap is a Myth

Lewis Hall

Lewis Hall


27 Mar 2019


Often treated as a monster lurking under the collective beds of firms with 250 employees or over—the gender pay gap is the corporate bogeyman.

However, unlike the skeletons in your closet, the monster under your bed, or your train turning up on time, the gender pay gap is not a myth.

Gender pay gap myths

As the deadline is imminent, let us relieve you of some of the myths surrounding the gap, starting with:

The gender pay gap is a myth—it doesn’t exist

First thing’s first. Some of you may be confusing the gender pay gap with equal pay.

The two terms actually mean two different things:

Equal pay relates to the law that employees must receive equal pay for equal work. It is illegal to pay two employees who perform the same role at the same level different wages.

The gender pay gap on the other hand relates to the mean and median amount of pay men and women receive within an organisation. The pay gap is not a measurement of different pay for equal work, but a snapshot of the representation of women compared to men within an organisation at all levels.

If you accept that definition, then all you need to do is take a look at last year’s gender pay gap data to discover that the gap is not a myth.

While there were businesses that did not have a gap, and some that had a gap in favour of women—the vast majority had a gap in favour of men, some significantly so.

It’s not a legal requirement to publish my gender pay gap report

But it is.

Take a look at this passage from the UK Government’s website:

“From 2017, any organisation that has 250 or more employees must publish and report specific figures about their gender pay gap… Employers must both:

  • publish their gender pay gap data and a written statement on their public-facing website
  • report their data to government online - using the gender pay gap reporting portal.”

Succeeding to create and submit the report, but failing to publish it, will be seen as breaking the law, the same as if you hadn’t produced the report in the first place.

Don’t get caught out because you missed a vital—and a relatively easy—last step.

The gender pay gap is widening / closing

This is a relatively complicated one, and largely depends on which metric you are using to determine how the gap has grown (or shrunk).

If you were basing this claim on the hourly median gender pay gap, then you might be surprised. As of February, the figure had improved from 9.7% last year to 8.4% this year.

However, a number of major companies that have released their data prior to the deadline are reporting a wider gap overall. Some such companies include HSBC, KwikFit, Virgin Atlantic, and Npower.

So, what is the truth?

Well, we can’t say for certain before all the data is in, and even then there may be some room for debate, depending on the metric you’re basing your argument on.

Our advice—wait until all reports have been published before making your decision.

There is no benefit to decreasing the pay gap in my company

A number of studies have pointed to the result that having a diverse workforce leads to increased productivity and overall performance.

This also applies to executive boards.

According to one McKinsey study, public companies with diverse executive boards have a 95% higher return than homogeneous ones.

Not only does this promote a positive, inclusive culture, it boosts your brand’s reputation and proves you are a fair and equal employer. This will serve to attract fresh talent to your business.

There is a plethora of business reasons to decrease your pay gap, including: talent attraction, workforce engagement, innovation, brand awareness, help with procurement, preparation for acquisition, and more. But ultimately, it’s just the right thing to do.


About the Author

Lewis Hall

Lewis Hall is Croner's Marketing Executive, responsible for producing, sourcing, and organising content across the website. He has a background of working in the legal marketing industry and is also responsible for Croner's social media channels, so keep your eyes peeled for fresh content!


Lewis Hall

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