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Gender pay gap – How is the rail industry performing?

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New legislation has made it compulsory for all companies in the UK employing more than 250 members of staff to publish details of the gender pay gap within their organisations.

By the end of March 2018, all organisations that fell into this bracket had to publish their 2017 statistics. However, there are many companies with fewer than 250 employees who have voluntarily submitted figures.

At the click of a button, you can now find out whether a particular company has been paying female staff less or more, on average, than their male colleagues.

How is it measured?

Companies have been publishing mean and median measures to illustrate the difference between the gross hourly earnings of male and female employees.

Imagine you were to line up every employee from the lowest paid to the highest earners. The median value, in effect, compares the pay of the middle-earning man and woman, while the mean value takes an average of all the salaries from the lowest to the highest paid.

The median value is often cited over the mean in relation to the gender pay gap because the mean can be skewed by high executive salaries.

As well as looking at hourly pay, the reports also illustrate what proportion of women receive bonuses and what that company’s gender bonus gap is.

How does the rail industry compare?

The Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, which was published in October 2017, put the national median pay gap at 9.1 per cent for full-time employees and 18.4 per cent when including part-time workers.

RailStaff’s analysis of all 10,343 companies to submit details to date, including those that published figures after the deadline, suggests the national median figure could actually be around 9.4 per cent. In simple terms, this would mean women are receiving £0.91 for every £1 being paid to male employees.

Network Rail falls between these figures on 11 per cent, but the supply chain has a bit more work to do.

Excluding joint ventures and Carillion, the remaining 16 companies included on Network Rail’s most recent top 20 suppliers list have all published gender pay gap details. Only three companies reported gaps below 9.4 per cent; four companies were below the 18.4 per cent ONS average. Many were above 30 per cent, and in one organisation women were being paid just over half of what the men were.

Train operators fared slightly better. The average pay gap among 17 train operators we found to have published details was around 20 per cent. This list included Heathrow Express, which was the only operator we found to pay women more than men.

What does it tell us?

While the data gives us an accurate picture of how well women are represented across the industry, it has its limitations.

The data doesn’t compare pay like-for-like. Although it indicates that in most cases women are being paid less than men on average, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are being paid less to do the same job. Women are also more likely to work part time and, unlike the ONS data, the new figures don’t take this into account.

The data also shows that having a higher percentage of female staff won’t necessarily result in a lower gender pay gap. Companies with the lowest pay gaps had women well represented at all levels of the business while some of the largest gaps were at businesses where the majority of female staff were employed in lower-paying roles.

How should employers react?

Many of the employers with the highest pay gaps are in industries with a historical gender imbalance. The challenge for these companies is to continue to encourage more women into the sector and ensure that female staff are supported and inspired to progress into senior roles.

To find out how your company compares, visit gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

Photo: Morsa Images/ iStock

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