Research archive

On this page you will find links to important past research on the gender pay gap.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission 

  • Fairness, dignity and respect in SME Workplaces

A December 2015 report from the EHRC, Research Report 98, Fairness, dignity and respect in SME Workplaces found that while around half (54 per cent) of SMEs had a formal written policy in place on equal opportunities or diversity, only a minority (12 per cent) monitored pay, bonuses and other benefits by protected characteristics such as age, gender or ethnicity. Even fewer (10 per cent) monitored promotions of existing staff by these characteristics. Both of these practices were twice as likely to happen in the largest SMEs (21 per cent of those with 100-249 employees monitor pay, bonuses and other benefits and 19 per cent promotions compared to 11 per cent and 10 per cent respectively in smaller businesses). The report notes that in very small companies with only a handful of staff, formal monitoring may seem out of place.

The aspects on which SMEs were least likely to have written policies or procedures were ensuring staff are free to join a union (48 per cent), the extent to which staff are able to practise their religion or belief (53 per cent) and ensuring men and women are paid the same for work of equal value (54 per cent).

Businesses were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the statements ‘this issue is only likely to move up our agenda if it was raised by staff / internal issues arose’ and ‘this issue is only likely to move up our agenda if clients / customers started asking about our equality practices or policies’. In both cases a majority agreed these would be key stimuli to greater action, suggesting that if the current proposals on gender pay gap reporting were to be extended to small businesses, SMEs might well move the issue of equal pay up the agenda if questions were asked about the gender pay gap by staff or customers. Only a minority of SMEs (7 per cent) reported that staff had ever made complaints or raised concerns about any of the issues covered by the research any of these areas, and only one per cent had had concerns raised about whether men and women are being paid the same for work of equal value.

  • Is Britain Fairer? The state of equality and human rights 2015

Is Britain Fairer? The state of equality and human rights 2015 is the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s statutory five-yearly report on equality and human rights progress in England, Scotland and Wales. Only the gender pay gap for graduates is headlined as a challenge for the policy makers and influencers to whom the report is addressed. As the text on the gender pay gap is brief, it is reproduced here in full.

The decline in the average pay for men meant that the pay gap between men and women narrowed between 2008 and 2013, from 22.5 per cent to 20 per cent. While average pay for men dropped by roughly £1 per hour (to £12.91), women’s pay fell by 40 pence (to £10.33). The average hourly pay of women in Great Britain in 2013, therefore, remained significantly lower than that of men.

While the high incidence of low paid work in the UK affected 21 per cent of all workers (Corlett and Whittaker, 2014), it disproportionately affected women, concentrated in low-wage sectors:

  • In total, 62 per cent of workers paid below the living wage were women (Lawton and Pennycook, 2013).
  • Women were also paid less than men in all age groups, and the impact of parenthood on women remained highly visible in pay gap trends (Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2014).
  • Gender pay gaps widen with age. In 2013, the gaps ranged from 3.5 per cent for the 16–24 and 5.3 per cent for the 22–29 age groups, to above 20 per cent for all those aged 40 plus. For those aged 50 and over, the gaps have changed little since 2005 whereas, in younger age groups, the gaps are narrowing (Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2014).

There were also persistent gender pay gaps among graduates. Employment and earnings premiums among graduates were lower for women than for men (Purcell et al., 2012; Buscha and Urwin, 2013; Bibby et al., 2014).” [Is Britain Fairer? The state of equality and human rights 2015]

 Equality and Human Rights Commission research reports

Research report 2: Equal pay reviews survey 2008

Research report 9: Pay gaps across equalities areas

Research report 10: Equality group inequalities in education, employment and earnings

Pay gaps across the equality strands: a review

Employment and earnings in the finance sector: A gender analysis 

Research report 55 – Gender pay gap reporting survey 2009

Financial Services Inquiry Follow up Report

Also still relevant are:

Understanding the Gender Pay Gap: What’s Competition Got to Do with It?     Manning A., and Saidi F,  CEP Discussion Paper No 898,  2008, Centre for Economic Performance

The Part-Time Pay Penalty     Manning A., and Petrongolo B., CEP Discussion Paper No 679, 2005, Centre for Economic Performance

Undervaluing Women’s Work    Grimshaw, D., and Rubery J., European Work and Employment Research Centre, University of Manchester, 2007, Equal Opportunities Commission, Working paper Series No.53

You might also want to look at the Equal Pay Archives

 Last updated 9th November 2016