1 in 4 SMEs admit to gender pay gap

  • 1 in 4 SMEs admit to a gender pay gap at their firm
  • 75% have a policy of equal pay for the same job, regardless of gender
  • Less than half feel progress is being made to address the gender pay gap in the UK

Following recent government figures that confirmed almost eight in 10 companies and public-sector bodies pay men more than women, research from Close Brothers Asset Finance reveals that a quarter of SMEs admit to a gender pay gap at their firm.


The ‘gender pay gap’ is a measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across an organisation.


The figure is consistent across all regions of the UK, except in London where 36% of respondents answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘is there a gender pay gap at your firm?’, while in the Republic of Ireland this drops to 17%.


“The results of the survey demonstrate that there is still some way to go before there is true pay equality,” said Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance. “On a positive note, businesses are being more transparent about their pay structures, with the UK a world-leader in tackling this issue.


“Our research has revealed that action is being taken, with 75% of SMEs confirming that they have a policy of equal pay for the same job, regardless of gender.”

This applies to traditionally male dominated sectors, including construction (69%), engineering (74%), manufacturing (77%), transport & haulage (76%) and print (90%) all having equal pay policies in place.


Even companies employing less than 10 people are advocating for equal pay, with 76% having policies.



While action is being taken, less than half of those surveyed think real and obvious progress is being made to address the gender pay gap in the UK, with smaller firms being least convinced.


“SMEs are often on the frontline of policy change and while they may agree that more needs to be done, it’s not always easy to notice progress, particularly if it’s slow,” said Neil.


“Regionally, the only area of the UK that is strongly ahead of the UK national sentiment of 48% is Scotland where 58% of SMEs are noting significant change.”


Do you think real and obvious progress is being made to address the gender pay gap in the UK?

Under £250k £251k – £500k £501k – £1m £1.1m – £5m £5.1m – £10m £10m +
Yes 40% 51% 56% 53% 54% 57%
Difficult to tell 40% 31% 30% 40% 36% 34%
No 20% 18% 14% 7% 10% 9%



UK law

Three in every four SMEs know that equal pay is enshrined in UK law, indicating a relatively good knowledge of the Equality Act 2010; it means that men and women in the same employment performing equal work must receive equal pay.


“The Equal Pay Act has been in place since 1970 and prohibits any less favourable treatment between men and women in terms of pay and conditions of employment,” said Neil. “There is nothing to suggest that companies are deliberately discriminating on gender lines, but what is pleasing is that there appears to be consensus that the gap should not only be narrowed, but disappear altogether.”


For a more detailed breakdown or discussion about the results, contact Anton Nebbe, Head of PR and Communications, 07736 286 144, anton.nebbe@closebrothers.com


For more news from Close Brothers Asset Finance, please click here.



– ENDS –


Notes to Editors




For more detail about the results for your sector and / or region, please get in touch with:

Anton Nebbe

Head of PR and Communications

07736 286 144



About Close Brothers Asset Finance

Close Brothers Asset Finance offers a range of flexible funding options including hire purchase, leasing and refinancing.


Close Brothers Asset Finance is a member of the Close Brothers Group.


Close Brothers is a leading UK merchant banking group providing lending, deposit taking, wealth management services, and securities trading. We employ 2,900 people, principally in the UK. Close Brothers Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a member of the FTSE 250.







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