The social inequality highlighted during the pandemic should lead to greater "inclusion, diversity and fairness" across companies operating in the hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL) sectors.
That was the conclusion of the Gender Pay Gap Interim Report, published by Women in Hospitality Travel and Leisure (WiHTL) and PwC. A full report will appear later this year after the government extended the deadline for companies to submit a gender pay gap report until 5 October 2021.
By 31 May this year only 19% of HTL companies had submitted a report, compared to 32% of businesses across all industries, which is likely to be a reflection of the more consistent impact of Covid-19 across the three sectors.
The interim report showed that the limited number of companies that did complete a gender pay gap recorded an increase in the average mean pay gaps for the first time in three years.
The mean pay gap for 2019/20, which considers all data with equal weighting, was 8.8%, compared to 7.4% the previous year; however the median pay gap, which only looks at the midpoint, fell from 5% to 3.8% year-on-year.
The pay gap continued to reflect the fact that across HTL there were more men than women in the best-paid senior positions and technical roles and far more women in lower-paid jobs. The average HTL company that reported by 31 May was 61% male in the highest paid 25% of its workforce and 54% in the lowest paid 25%.
As well as contributing to pay inequalities, these figures were likely to reflect that jobs held by women are more likely to be casual and vulnerable to reactionary business decisions, such as furlough, than those held by men.
While the pandemic has resulted in unprecedented challenges for the HTL sectors, the report anticipated the social inequality highlighted during Covid-19 to lead to "inclusion, diversity and fairness to be focus areas for employers, employees, customers and investors".
It said: "Transparency and reporting, on gender and other diversity characteristics, is one of the clearest signals that business can make that they are committed to driving change and holding themselves to account in this important area."
The report also said that HTL companies were responding to the gender pay gap by focusing on recruitment and attraction, retention and development, internal progression, celebration and recognition.
Best practice examples included a restaurant company which stated its commitment to engaging with its diversity and inclusion steering group, which resulted in increasing the representation of hourly paid workers on the forum and hiring a dedicated team to drive actions forward.
Meanwhile, a large global foodservice company had a dedicated Women in Leadership programme which offered external coaching and development.
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