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Civil Service

Update on the gender pay gap - 2019

Antonia Romeo, Permanent Secretary, Department for International Trade, and Civil Service Gender Champion
Antonia Romeo, Permanent Secretary, Department for International Trade, and Civil Service Gender Champion

More than 18 ministerial and non-ministerial departments have published their latest gender pay gap data. It’s the third year of mandatory reporting and the third in which the Civil Service has published well ahead of the 30 March deadline.

Across the whole of the Civil Service, the overall median gender pay gap for all staff has narrowed to 11.1% for 2019, down from 12.2% in 2018. This is markedly lower than the gap seen in the private sector, and consolidates a drop of almost 7 percentage points within the Civil Service since 2017. 

April 2020 marks three years of mandatory gender pay gap reporting for large employers. These requirements, first introduced by the Government in 2017, have created more transparency on gender pay differences and initiated board-level conversations in over 10,000 organisations each year. 

However, despite most departments moving in the right direction, the change is gradual and progress is not equal across departments. 

The primary cause of the gender pay gap within the Civil Service is an imbalance in representation – women are over-represented in junior grades and under-represented in senior grades.

 We’ve been working to tackle this imbalance at a senior level, and the proportion of female Senior Civil Servants (SCS) is now 45%. That is a record high, but this improvement is not replicated across all departments and career paths. We must be proactive in order to remove the so-called ‘glass pyramid’, where there are more women in the lower quartile of organisations than at the top, and where there are wider gaps for women, the higher they reach. 

This is why we have adopted recommendations from the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and Behavioural Insights Team on closing the gender pay gap. We now use software that ensures job adverts for senior roles do not contain gender-biased wording; have banned single sex shortlists; offer development, mentoring and sponsorship; ensure interview panels are diverse; and promote family friendly policies among men as well as women. We continue to test the effectiveness of these new policies so we can target our activities in the best way possible.

We are also listening to women across the Civil Service. Their experiences are core to our approach in tackling inequality. Our departmental staff networks – at both a departmental and cross-Civil Service level – as well as senior champions, are vital partners in tackling gender equality.

This work matters. The Civil Service must be representative of society, not least because it better equips us to meet the challenges we face, and tackling our gender pay gap is a crucial part of this. Diverse teams have a greater breadth of experience and skills to deliver real impact in improving the lives of all citizens.

As we begin our 2020 Year of Inclusion, I hope that all civil servants will think about how they can support the gender equality agenda, and how we can achieve our ambition for the Civil Service to be the UK’s most inclusive employer.

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  1. Comment by Michelle posted on

    My company has increased its workforce by 60 people which brings it to, or near 250 employees. How do I check if my employer is or is planning to audit the gender pay gap in my company in 2020?

  2. Comment by TC posted on

    The gender pay gap is certainly a worthy subject, but what about the inequality of pay generally?
    I am lucky enough to be on top of my pay scale as I have been working for over 40 years. However, there are a number of colleagues doing the same job as me who are paid much less as there is very little pay progression.
    No one seems to address this.

  3. Comment by Al posted on

    Whilst we all must accept that gender gap figures may well be an important indicator of structural inequality, we should also be clear that they smooth out nuances and do not account for differences in specific job roles, age, previous experience, or choice etc. What we must aim for is equality of opportunity and job role access - a true meritocracy ignorant of gender, age etc. Therefore, conflating societal levels of representation (however useful it might be to an organisation or politically) rather than all our efforts on ensuring everyone has equal opportunity and are appointed on merit might be a distraction and lead to actions that are ill-focused.

  4. Comment by Chris posted on

    i would like to see more gender equality when it comes leave as well. maternity pay - 26 weeks full pay then 13 weeks SMP
    Paternity pay - 2 weeks SPP

    • Replies to Chris>

      Comment by Hannah posted on

      This comes under sex equality, not gender. Women need the time off so their bodies can recover from pregnancy and childbirth and so that they can breastfeed a newborn. As nice as it would be for men to have just as much time off, I feel that it would be difficult for most employers to justify this expense, without taking the funds away from another area.
      Your figures miss off SPL - Shared Parental Leave and ShPP - Statutory Shared Parental Pay which allows both parents in the UK to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between them.

  5. Comment by Jo posted on

    What if the gender pay gap, as figures suggest, also comes down to how Men and Women choose what is important to them?

    Yes, we need more women in higher earning management positions and more opportunities to achieve this but if some of it comes down to how the sexes choose based on what they value in life choices, will the gap ever be truly equal?

    • Replies to Jo>

      Comment by Hannah posted on

      It might help if you re-think the notion of choice that you refer to as compromise instead. Because women have only been present in the majority of workplaces for around 100 years, the entire infrastructure, culture and practices are all designed to suit the men that implemented them.
      It's been a continuous work in progress since then, but with the right changes then I don't see why it can't be truly equal one day.