Gender Pay Gap Statistics - March 2020

We continue to welcome the Government’s requirement for large organisations to be more transparent on gender pay, and will use this opportunity to nurture our culture of supporting women in the workplace, ensuring success is defined by talent, not gender or circumstance. 

Coronavirus impact

On 24 March 2020 the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) decided that in light of the Covid-19 pandemic there is no expectation for employers to report their data this year. The deadline is always one year after the snapshot date meaning 30 March 2021 for us for this set of data. We have decided to continue with this piece of work as we feel it is important to monitor our progress and continue our commitment to supporting women in our workplace.

However when looking at national data it should be noted that the Office of National Statistics are having practical challenges in collecting information, and of course there has been a dramatic effect on the UK labour market which will mainly be shown in the data for next year.

What is a gender pay gap?

A gender pay gap is the difference in average pay between the men and women in a workforce, expressed relative to men’s earnings. For example, ‘women earn 15% less than men per hour’.

It is different to equal pay, which is a legal requirement to pay men and women the same for equal or similar work. Ashford Borough Council has a robust job evaluation system which ensures equality of pay.

Having a gender pay gap does not mean that unlawful discrimination is occurring. The majority of organisations will have a gap for varying reasons, some of which are due to much broader influences such as economic, cultural, societal and educational factors.

It is good news that our gender pay gap has reduced slightly. There is a small uplift in the amount of women in the top pay quartile and slightly less in the lower pay quartile. This could be due to a number of factors such as personal development plans being undertaken, women feeling more confident in going for promotion opportunities or more aware of our policies that support a work/life balance. A significant shift in the gap will only be seen over the longer term as we continue to work on a flexible culture. 

Ashford Borough Council Data as at 31 March 2020

Mean (average) gender pay gap in hourly pay: 12.2%

Median (mid-point) gender pay gap in hourly pay: 18.2%

Proportion of males and females in each pay quartile
Pay quartile Men % Women %
Top 54.7 45.3
Upper middle 39.8 60.2
Lower middle 25.5 74.5
Lower 42.7 57.3

Mean (average) bonus gender pay gap: 23.2%

Median (mid-point) bonus gender pay gap: -1,150%

Proportion of males and females receiving a bonus payment: Males (15.5%), Females (2.1%)

We do not operate a bonus or performance related pay scheme. The figures behind the bonus gender pay gap result from long service awards (five females) and long service awards on retirement (two males) for 2019/20, and an informal non-contractual operational arrangement for the provision of a voucher reward scheme at Aspire, the council’s landscape management team.

This scheme was introduced in December 2016 after the team was brought in-house after twenty years of outsourced operations. To ensure that the scheme is fair a comprehensive set of criteria for any reward was created. This was brought in after consultation with Unison and is reviewed at least annually.

The statistics look unusual because they show that more men than women received a ‘bonus payment’, that men were given more money on average, and women were given more money at mid-point. This reflects the fact that the long service awards are of a set value and a higher amount, and the rewards at Aspire were given to a larger number of men but at varying amounts.

Why does a gender pay gap exist nationally?

Essentially there are more women in lower paid occupations and fewer in lucrative sectors. Women are also more likely to work part time according to the Office of National Statistics, which is generally less well paid than full time work on a per hour basis. They are also more likely to take time out of their careers for caring responsibilities (child and elder). These factors limit women’s experience and progression.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development confirms that if a woman leaves the labour market altogether or even for a short period of time, or continues to work but on a part time basis, she is more likely to be in a low paid and low skilled job, and to remain there throughout her working life. The CIPD also states that part time employees are considered by employers to accumulate less valuable skills and experience, and therefore acquire less human capital, which is often considered permanent.

Reducing this gender gap is simply about ensuring women have the same opportunities as men to fulfil their potential in the workplace.

What do our calculations mean?

We know that we are already a fair employer and that our pay structure, policies, recruitment procedures and training programme are set without bias to gender or any other personal characteristic. We also know many of these policies and procedures assist both our male and female staff in a work-life balance and career progression opportunities.

We would like to close our gap further, whilst recognising that there are likely staff of both genders that do not wish to progress further in their careers at this time.

We are focusing on communicating our existing policies which simply remove some of the barriers that women may be more likely to face than men. We want to nurture our culture of supporting women in the workplace and continue to ensure that:

  • Unpaid care can be distributed evenly between men and women
  • Occupational downgrading or career stalling after motherhood is eliminated
  • Women have the opportunity and confidence to go for development and career progression, on a par with male colleagues
  • Recruitment is free from bias – in appointment, starting salary and promotion

We are committed to having a diverse and inclusive workplace that gives equal opportunities to all employees irrespective of gender.