Leeds gender pay gap widened in 2019, figures show
It represents a widening of the gap by more than three per cent compared to the previous year, analysis of the figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
The UK gender pay gap average in 2018 stood at around 9.5 per cent.
And while the median (middle value) hourly pay for men in Leeds stood at £15.01 in 2019, the median hourly pay for women was almost £2 lower, at £13.10.
Campaigners in the city have said the gender pay gap remains “a real issue in Leeds”, while regional leaders claim they are investing “tens of millions” into career opportunities and training in an effort to bridge the gap.
The analysis comes as people across the world this weekend mark International Women’s Day, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
The analysis comes as a disappointment to local equalities groups including Women’s Lives Leeds, who announced last year that they were working with organisations in the city to make Leeds the UK’s first “Women Friendly City”.
A representative from Women Friendly Leeds said: “We recognise that the gender pay gap is a real issue in Leeds.
“As part of the Women Friendly Leeds movement we aim to support the creation of opportunities for women and girls, work with businesses to create policy that considers equality and the needs of women, and provide mentoring opportunities with women in senior roles who make decisions and changes”.
Women continue to be under-represented when it comes to top jobs in certain professions such as law and finance - both industries integral to Leeds’ economy, figures show.
Across the country, the pay gap is also heavily influenced by disparities between older male and female workers.
In 2017, new UK legislation required all employers with over 250 employees to report their gender pay gap, but some equalities groups believe this measure doesn’t go far enough.
A representative from the Fawcett society, a national charity that campaigns for equality, said: “Rather than just publishing their gender pay gap data, employers here need to commit to action plans to reduce their pay gaps.
“Women in Leeds have a right to expect their employers to act on this urgently.
“Year on year pay gaps lead to vastly different lifetime incomes.
“Women in Leeds deserve more than they're getting.”
A spokesperson from Leeds City Council said the local authority was “leading by example” on the issue, having reduced the median gender pay gap among their own staff by 3 per cent in 2019.
They said: “We are extremely proud to be leading by example by making sure our staff are paid a living wage, and want to use our role as an anchor organisation in Leeds to drive positive change across the city.
“Recently, we hosted a summit to bring businesses from across the city together to talk about paying the real living wage. We hope that by starting these conversations we can help shape positive changes for the people of Leeds.”
Kate Hainsworth, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) diversity champion and chief executive of the grant-giving Leeds Community Foundation, insists, however, that consistent and ongoing efforts are being made to close the gender pay gap in Leeds.
The LEP board itself is made up of an equal number of men and women who they say they are “committed to achieving diversity and equality of opportunity in everything we do.”
Ms Hainsworth says she’s working “alongside my fellow board members to ensure that we promote opportunity for, by and with the City Region’s diverse people, culture and heritage.”
“The LEP is investing tens of millions in skills and training across the region, to support people and help improve their career aspirations and opportunities. The work we do targets career starters and changers, educators, advisers and employers, so everyone can share in the region’s prosperity.”
Meanwhile, several other local authorities across Yorkshire also saw their gender pay gaps widen, including Ryedale in North Yorkshire, where the figures reveal women were paid an average of 23.9 per cent less than men in 2019 - a sharp increase on 6.7 per cent the previous year.
Sam Alexander, Chair of the Skills and Employability Board and Diversity Champion for the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, believes that “occupational segregation” is partially to blame for increases across Yorkshire, with women “concentrated in occupations with poorer prospects and in low-paid part-time work”.