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The Gender Pay Gap and the Recruitment Industry

Not limited merely to the UK, the gender pay gap  has been described as the shame of commerce worldwide. Thankfully, the UK is leading the way in transparency and as of the 5th April, it is a legal requirement for all companies with more than 250 employees to submit gender pay gap data to be published publicly online.

Pay gap reporting has effected the recruitment industry twofold: firstly, internal employees of large agencies must be included in reporting and secondly, temporary staff placed by agencies have also to be included in gender pay gap reporting (for instance those paid on an agencies PAYE). This combined reporting doesn’t allow for a true picture of the pay gap that exists exclusively within the recruitment industry, as together the data is somewhat muddied and not a true representation of the state of gender inequality in the recruitment industry. Further, there is always the concern that  the figures could be falsified, but as the company directors are under a legal responsibility to certify the data they submit to be true, this shouldn’t prove to be too much of an issue (if at all).

Agencies that have been able to report a “realistic view” i.e. without including placed temporary workers (utilising third party payroll providers), have demonstrated that the recruitment industry operates a gender pay gap significantly lower than the national average. A great sign that recruitment companies operate a level playing field – but not enough companies have been able to report the recruitment-only pay gap to provide a comprehensive picture.

Unlike most sectors, the responsibility of the recruitment industry stretches beyond their own remit. With the unique position agencies are in, they can assist with the wider gender pay gap issues that effect a multitude of sectors. Tom Hadley, director of policy at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation stated, “…our members have a key role to play to help clients increase diversity and inclusion, address historic and systemic barriers to progression and opportunity for all and secure more women in senior roles. Something as simple as tweaking the language in a job advert, promoting flexible hours or thinking about where you advertise could have a big impact.”

Tom perfectly highlights that it is the role of agencies to look beyond their own four walls. The industry is presented with the perfect opportunity to prove its worth – consulting on wide ranging issues that touch upon the gender pay gap will breathe new life into the recruitment world and give agencies the opportunity to increase their value proposition to clients.

Thankfully the recruitment industry can breathe a sigh of relief that it doesn’t include Ryanair – the worst gender pay gap reported in the UK. With a gap of 72 percent (meaning the median hourly pay for female employees is 72 percent lower than male employees), it beats every company in every sector and their rival, Easyjet, reported a pay gap of a mere 45 percent. The national average has been shown to be 18 percent, which is a shameful enough number, but compulsory reporting aims to name, shame and kick companies in the right direction.

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