Our gender pay gap: further steps on the journey to equality

By Professor Judith Squires, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost

In a recent Bristol Uni Women blog post I reflected on the importance of gender equality at Bristol. Now, as we publish our 2019 Gender Pay Gap Report, I wanted to highlight our progress in relation to our gender pay gap and to outline just a couple of the things that we are doing to ensure that we are rewarding individuals equally for their work, regardless of gender, ethnicity or background as part of our commitment to fostering an inclusive community, increasing the diversity within our staff population, and eliminating the gender pay gap.

Our 2019 report: key findings

Our 2019 Gender Pay Gap Report fulfils the government requirement for all employers with 250 or more employees to publish details of women’s and men’s pay across their organisation, and to set out their plans for redressing any inequalities. It also provides us with an important opportunity to evaluate our progress, both against our own ambitions and against national benchmarks.

Our Report shows that, compared to last year, our median gender pay gap has reduced by 2.6%, and now stands at 13.6%. This is considerably lower than the Office of National Statistics UK-wide gap of 17.9% and represents welcome progress. Nonetheless, there is clearly still more to be done.

Eradicating the gender pay gap will require us to address the underlying fact that we have fewer women than men in higher graded roles and more women than men in lower graded roles across the University. We have been working to address this via our recruitment practices, as well as through our reward and recognition processes. It is therefore encouraging to note that our female professorial population has risen by 7.8% in the last five years to 25.1%. We anticipate that this proportion will continue to increase rapidly in future years given our pipeline of talented women.

The Report also reveals that we have an issue in relation to our bonus pay awards, where we have a gender gap of 37.5% (median) in favour of men. While recipients of bonus pay make up a small group of staff (235 plus 71 clinicians, out of 6,738) – far smaller than in the private sector – we are still keen to better understand the reasons for this gap in bonus pay. It appears that, although a higher proportion of women than men receive bonus payments through our Merit Pay Scheme, larger numbers of women on lower grades receive merit pay compared to men, and these payments are linked to salary. Another issue of note is that the gap widens to a median of 60.7% when we include Clinical Excellence Awards (National Health Service payments for clinicians), which are not under our control, and Practice Performance Bonuses for GPs in the Student Health Service.

Steps to equality

We’ve introduced a range of initiatives in recent years to ensure that we continue to make progress in relation to our commitment to increasing diversity within our staff population and eradicating the gender pay gap.

One recent initiative is the new Women’s Mentoring Network that we are piloting, in which female staff at grades K and L receive mentoring support from female colleagues in senior roles. The response has been fantastic with over 220 women responding to our call, of whom 120 have committed to being mentored in the pilot and 44 senior colleagues have been confirmed as mentors. We look forward to seeing this network develop into something that will make a real difference to the progression of our female staff.

Another initiative is our approach to data gathering and analysis, where we are deepening and broadening the data collected to generate more comprehensive information about the details of the gender pay gap. This will ensure that we are better equipped to address the challenges. Our next Equal Pay Audit and Gender Pay Gap Report will therefore include details about ethnicity. At the faculty level we are also investigating why the gender pay gap is wider in certain disciplines than in others.

These are just a couple of examples of the wider range of activities being taken to address the gender pay gap. I want to thank colleagues across the University – in faculties, in Human Resources, on committees and working groups – for your commitment, insights and hard work so far on this issue. Together we are making real progress.
Our Gender Pay Gap Report will be posted publicly on gov.uk at the end of March; University staff can read the Report online now.

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