Julia Irvine 31 Oct 2017 10:05am

FCA says gender pay gap not equal pay issue

The Financial Conduct Authority has revealed that its average gender pay gap is 19.28%, although it says it is not an equal pay issue

Rather, it blames the gap on the fact that it has relatively few women in senior technical and managerial roles and more women in administrative jobs, a situation which it is committed to changing as a signatory to the government-backed Women in Finance charter.

“The FCA’s clear position is that women and men who carry out the same jobs, similar jobs or work of equal value are paid equally,” the regulator says.

Under this initiative, it aims for 45% of its senior leadership team to be female by 2020 and 50% by 2025. The figure currently stands at 36%, down from 39% in 2016.

It also has a target of 8% of the leadership team identifying as black or Asian minority ethnic (BAME) by 2020 and 13% by 2025. Currently, the percentage is 2%, down from 3% in 2016.

Christopher Woolard, who chairs the FCA executive diversity committee, says that it is important for the FCA to reflect the society it represents.

“We are obviously disappointed that the number of people identifying as female and BAME in senior leadership roles fell slightly in the year ending 31 March 2017. However, we are taking positive steps to ensure that we achieve a better balance across the organisation,” he said.

“This includes improving our gender balance throughout the organisation which will help reduce the gender pay gap.

“We already know that recruitment to our senior team is beginning to increase the representation of women and BAME colleagues. We have set an ambitious aspiration for greater diversity in the FCA and are determined to meet it.”

The FCA is one of a number of large organisations to release information about their gender pay gap, ahead of the introduction next April of a new legal requirement that will require all employers with more than 250 employees to do so.

The government is now focusing on encouraging smaller businesses to follow suit.

Last week, the Office of National Statistics published annual figures showing that, while the UK’s gender pay gap for full time workers had fallen to a record low of 9.1% (9.4% in 2016), the overall gap had risen slightly from 18.2% to 18.4%.

Prime minister Theresa May has now called on businesses with under 250 employees to follow the example of businesses like PwC, Weetabix, TSB, Fujitsu, Virgin Media and SSE and voluntarily disclose their pay gap information.

 “Tackling injustices like the gender pay gap is part of building a country that works for everyone,” she said.

She welcomed the news that the gap has fallen this year for full-time workers but added that it wouldn’t close on its own.

“We all need to be taking sustained action to make sure we address this. We need to see a real step-change in the number of companies publishing their gender pay data and offering progression and flexibility for all employees.”

According to global management consultancy McKinsey, if the UK succeeded in closing the gender pay gap, it would add £150bn to the UK economy by 2025.