Strategy & Operations » Governance » Lib Dems to open up companies’ gender pay gap data

BIG BUSINESS will be compelled to publish data illustrating the gender pay gap among their employees, under plans put forward by the Liberal Democrats in the run-up to next year’s general election.

The policy, launched today by Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and employment minister Jo Swinson, would see businesses employing more than 250 people made to publish the average pay of male and female staff. The party hopes the move will give staff the power to push for greater pay equality and hold their employers to account.

The plans, however, were labelled “crude” by the Institute of Directors’ diversity adviser Lisa Buckingham, as she warned it would not address the 19.7% pay gap between men and women in the UK.

“We support the objectives of this policy, but there is a risk that simply publishing average salaries for men and women will give you a pretty crude bit of data that won’t actually lead to any change,” said Buckingham.

“The temptation is always for a quick fix, but we would encourage companies voluntarily to produce a more detailed picture of male and female pay within their organisations so that meaningful comparisons can be made and pressure applied from within for the ending of wage disparity.”

Clegg said: “Forty years after the Equal Pay Act was passed it is utterly unacceptable that women are not being equally rewarded in the workplace – with women paid, on average, 20% less than men.

“Real equality means fair pay. It’s time to accept that the voluntary approach does not go far or fast enough.

“We need to lift the lid on what big companies pay the men and women they employ, with that information there for every employee and customer to see.”

“In 2013, the average woman earned 19.7% less than the average man and Liberal Democrats want to see equal pay for equal jobs.”