Last week, all UK companies with more than 250 employees reported on the gender pay gaps within their organisations. Unsurprisingly, the transport, infrastructure and construction sectors didn’t come out too favourably.
The report showed that across the UK, the median average hourly pay is 18.4% lower for women.
For our industries, the results are a mixed bag. In transport, public sector organisations appear to have the lowest pay gap; Transport for London has a median gender pay gap of 10% and Network Rail showed 11%, while Highways England came out on top favouring women with a pay gap of -1.4%.
Construction didn’t fare as well. The average across the sector was 25%, but amongst the biggest contractors, most were well in excess of this.
BAM Construct reported the highest pay gap amongst the big contractors with a staggering 59.6% difference in median hourly wages and Bouygues UK and Mace Ltd reported median gaps of 40.9% and 39.9% respectively.
Consultancies were on average somewhere in the middle with the likes of Atkins and Mott MacDonald showing a disparity of 20%.
But what do these figures actually mean? The gender pay gap shouldn’t be confused with equal pay. When the BBC scandal hit a few months back, the figures were easy to dissect. Men and women doing the same role were being paid vastly different salaries. The difference with the gender pay gap is that the numbers show a median average of all male and female hourly wages across the entire organisation.
The median is calculated by lining up the earnings of all men and of all women from highest to lowest, and comparing the difference between the two midpoint figures. Therefore, across transport and infrastructure, where there is a serious lack of women in senior (higher paying) roles, there is obviously going to be a big gap in these two midpoints. This is not to say that salaries for the same roles are being paid unequally.
The issues being highlighted by the gender pay gap report aren’t necessarily that women are being paid unfairly, but that they aren’t in the higher paying roles.
Diversity (or lack thereof) across our industries isn’t a new area for debate. Construction, transport and infrastructure have long been in the headlines for their poor representation of women, particularly at senior levels.
Two years ago, we published a report looking at gender diversity in UK transport and infrastructure boardrooms. We found that contractors were the most under-represented with only 8.73% of director’s being female, and public sector agencies and infrastructure owners had the most gender diversity at senior level at 21.04%. This tallies up with the results highlighted by the gender pay gap reports.
We also found that only 4% of CEO’s in the industry were female, with most women in senior roles tending to be within central support functions such as HR, marketing, finance, legal etc. Only about a third of female directors were in operational leadership roles, which is the most common background that leads to promotion to CEO.
You can read the full report HERE.
So why is it so important that companies make changes now?
1. Fairness and equality
The most obvious reason for recruiting for diversity is that it is the right thing to do. It might seem like in 2018 this is a redundant point, but it’s still one that needs addressing. Attitudes towards flexible working arrangements in construction aren’t where they need to be; and while we have seen vast improvements, bias in recruitment, promotions and pay decisions still aren’t a thing of the past.
2. Diverse teams work better
Diversity just makes good business sense. There have been countless reports demonstrating the correlation between diverse teams and better performance. In 2015, McKinsey looked at 366 public companies and found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians*.
3. Corporate reputation
If the gender pay gap report has shown us anything, it’s that organisations can’t hide in the shadows anymore. All of this information is available to anyone within a few clicks of the mouse. Transparency means that organisations have to face up to issues or risk a damaged reputation.
We are currently compiling the data to update our gender diversity report on Transport, Infrastructure & Construction boardrooms for 2018. If you’d like to receive a copy of this once it’s complete please do get in touch with me HERE.