The median full-time gender pay gap1 has reduced from 17.4 per cent in 1997 to 12.8 per cent in 2008, but despite this progress, inequality and discrimination clearly still exist. The median overall gender pay gap2 (including both full-time and part-time workers) stands at 22.6 per cent.
The Government believe that inequality cannot be tackled if it is hidden—transparency is essential to tackling discrimination. That is why we are bringing forward a range of measures to improve transparency on gender pay, such as including in the forthcoming Equality Bill a ban on pay secrecy clauses which prevent people discussing their own pay, so that women can compare wages and challenge employers who unlawfully pay them less than men.
We are considering how the £175 billion spent every year by the public sector procuring goods and services could be used to help deliver equality objectives. We will also examine how an equality kitemark could challenge businesses to report on important equality information, and collect evidence on the effectiveness of equal pay job evaluation audits.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is conducting a series of inquiries in sectors where there is clear inequality, and recently it announced that it will be investigating the financial services industry, which has an overall gender pay gap of 41.5 per cent compared with the national figure of 22.6 per cent.
1 Comparison of the median figures for full-time male and female workers' hourly earnings (excluding overtime) (Source: Office for National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings).
2 Comparison of the average figures for hourly earnings (excluding overtime) of all male and female workers (Source: Office for National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2008).