U.K. to Name and Shame Companies That Pay Men More Than Women

Businesses that perpetuate the wage gap will be exposed.
Campaigners for equal pay for women outside Caxton Hall in London on Aug. 16, 1954. (Photo: Douglas Miller/Getty Images)
Feb 12, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

Paying women less than men for the same work has been illegal in the U.K. for more than 45 years, but that hasn’t stopped businesses from offering men larger salaries and bigger bonuses. Following the law hasn’t spurred companies to end the discriminatory practice, so the government has another plan: force businesses to display their pay discrepancies for all the world to see.

U.K. officials announced legislation Friday that will require businesses with more than 250 employees to publish the differences in average salaries and bonuses between male and female employees. A government-sponsored website will rank businesses by their gender pay gap, spotlighting companies that have failed to address wage disparities.

“In recent years we’ve seen the best employers make groundbreaking strides in tackling gender inequality,” Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan said in a statement. “But the job won’t be complete until we see the talents of women and men recognized equally and fairly in every workplace.” She added that such measures would leave “nowhere for gender inequality to hide.”

Similar to the pay gap in the U.S., women in the U.K. make about 19 percent less than their male peers for the same work, according to the Office for National Statistics. That divide is even larger in companies with 250 to 999 employees, with women in the U.K. making 27 percent less than men, according to figures from the Chartered Management Institute.

Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron issued a declaration to end the gender pay gap within a generation. The conservative leader vowed to make salary reporting mandatory in October. Friday’s announcements expound on Cameron’s idea, including a timeline for implementation and additional measures.

The roughly 8,000 businesses that will be affected by the regulations will need to begin collecting salary data beginning in April 2017, and that information will be published on a government website in 2018.

The new measure also orders companies to report the number of male and female employees in each pay range and forces them to host all information on their own website.

Opponents, such as the Confederation of British Industry, say that listing salaries provides an incomplete picture because women are more likely to work part-time than men, The Telegraph reports.

Liberal and trade organizations are also dissatisfied with the legislation, arguing that working women should not have to wait another two years to learn if they’re making less than their male peers.

Morgan recognizes that there is more work to be done. “These regulations are only one element of our strategy to tackle the complex drivers of the pay gap, and we are committed to promoting gender equality,” she said. “This government will ensure that women are given the support they need to progress from the classroom to the boardroom.”