Hospitality appears to, once again, be strides ahead of other industries when it comes to the gender pay gap – but inequality still remains the norm.
Analysis by The Caterer of more than 350 large hospitality businesses who had registered their details ahead of the midnight deadline suggested that men in the industry are paid an average of 3.45% more than women.
However this is lower than the national average for the UK. Across all industries the pay gap among those who had reported showed a 9.7% imbalance in favour of men and analysis has shown hospitality to have the lowest gap of any industry.
The Caterer examined median pay gap figures – the method used by the Office of National Statistics to assess the state of the nation’s gender pay gap. While the figures are not representative of men and women being paid different salaries for the same job, they can often highlight companies in which women in senior positions are scarce. Of all businesses assessed, 58% were found to have a lower median pay rate for women than men.
The largest pay gap in the industry was seen in contract catering, in which women were paid an average of 13.3% less than men. However the rate is an improvement on last year, when figures showed a 15% gap in favour of men.
Restaurants reported pay parity between the genders both this year and last, while hotels saw a slight widening of their gap from 1% to 2.1% in favour of men.
Pub groups which have submitted their pay gap data also show a small increase, with men receiving an average of 3.1% more than women, compared to 2.85% last year.
Among the highest gender pay gaps in the industry for the period is Ei Group – the largest pub company in the UK – which operates with a median hourly wage that is 48% lower for women than men. While the firm has narrowed its pay gap compared to the previous year by three percentage points, 85% of the highest paid jobs are still done by men, while 76% of the lowest paid are performed by women.
There are also pronounced differences in bonus payments from the firm, which employs between 500 and 999 people directly. The data found that while 88% of women and 80% of men received bonuses, the median rate received by women was 73% lower.
An Ei Group spokesperson said: “While we are confident that we have equal pay for equivalent work, our gender pay gap is primarily driven by more male employees occupying senior roles.
“We are pleased that our actions over the year, which included achieving the highly prestigious Investors in People Gold Award, have narrowed our gender pay gap, but we recognise that improving our gender pay position requires longer term change and are working hard to ensure this happens.”
Rates of increase and decrease fluctuated across the industry – casting aspersions on the government’s hopes that naming and shaming firms for their pay gap would promote a trend of widespread improvement. Of the 379 hospitality firms assessed by The Caterer, the gender pay gap rose year on year for 42% of businesses, while the rate lowered for 44%.
Among the highest rising pay gaps was CH&Co, which saw its pay gap increase from a median rate of 7.7% to 16.3%. Women fill 32.1% of positions in the highest paid quarter of CH&Co’s workers; and 68.9% of the lowest paid. Median bonus pay for women at the firm was 25% lower than men, with only 7.5% of women receiving bonuses compared to 10.5% of men.
Meanwhile foodservice provider Brockwood Partnership, an independent subsidiary of CH&Co, reported a median gender pay gap of 40% – up by 26 percentage points on the previous year, a rate which is among the steepest increases in the sector.
Responding to the pay gap, chief operating officer for CH&Co Terry Waldron argued the numbers were skewed by mergers and acquisitions, as well as the merging of payroll systems at the time of the firm’s report, and the number of women employed part-time in conjunction with education contracts.
She said: “CH&Co is an inclusive employer. Our gender diversity and inclusivity culture champions values such as flexible working opportunities and gender pay parity when comparing like-for-like roles and responsibilities, which I’m very proud of. This makes us an attractive employer, particularly for women who represent more than 60% of our workforce”.
“Our education sector offers greater flexibility and opportunities for part-time and term-time contract roles. These tend to be more attractive to women with childcare and family commitments. We offer everyone working in this sector the opportunity to take full-time roles that enable them to work in other parts of the business outside of term time. The majority of the female workforce chooses to work in term-time roles, which tend to be non-management roles, whereas the men predominantly favour taking full-time roles.
“Recruiting and retaining female talent and supporting all our people who wish to progress to positions of management and leadership is a key priority and a personal goal of mine. We already offer flexible working for many roles, including those at management level, and we continuously review this to ensure lifestyle and family commitments support progression. I’m confident that we always do the right thing when it comes to our employment policies and by continuing to cultivate our inclusive culture, we will help narrow the gender pay gap across the company.”
All employers with 250 or more employees are required to publish their figures comparing men and women’s average pay across their business.
This article is being updated throughout the day to include companies who filed up to, and after, the gender pay gap report deadline.