The mean, full-time, hourly gender pay gap also dropped from 13.1% in 2019 to 11.5% in 2020.
Speaking to HR magazine Nicole Sahin, CEO and founder of recruitment company Globalization Partners said that the figures are encouraging: “Women have made steps towards greater equality, and this shows significant traction in the right direction.
“I am proud to see women continue to achieve leadership positions at an accelerated pace: their progression benefitting this year-on-year progress towards gender parity.”
Within Sahin’s organisation 50% of her executive team are women. She added: “And according to McKinsey, today, 44% of companies now have three or more women in their C-suite, up from 29% of companies in 2015.”
While progress towards narrowing the gender pay gap is encouraging to see, Fawcett Society has warned that there are reasons to be cautious about the pay gap data.
The survey was conducted prior to the introduction of the furlough scheme, therefore the real impact this year has had on women in work has yet to be seen.
Shahin added: “With the data not capturing the number of women who have reduced their working hours, lost their jobs, or left the labour force as a result of the pandemic, we will not get a true indication of progress until next year.
“We may have taken two steps forward and one step back. The long arc of history bends towards justice, but now, more than ever, societies and employers must prioritise fairness and gender equality in the battle for pay parity and family life.”
In March, the Government Equalities Office suspended the mandatory gender pay gap reporting requirement for the year. As a result The Fawcett Society report highlighted that there was a significant fall in the number of employers who provided data.
Normally, about 180,000 employers complete the ASHE questionnaire. However, this year only 136,000 employers did, a quarter fewer than usual.
Agata Nowakowska, area vice president at Skillsoft, said: “The unfortunate reality is, that against the tumultuous backdrop of a pandemic-struck Britain, the fight for pay equality has fallen to the wayside for many.
“Whilst employers have understandably shifted their focus to business survival, it is important they don’t lose sight of their gender pay goals.
“Pay gap reporting, in usual circumstances, enables companies to actively recognise and work towards improving the gender pay gap, acting as a benchmark for the entire organisation."
Data from the report, Equality it’s about Time, is from the society’s Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) conducted in April. ASHE data is based on a 1% sample of employee jobs, drawn from HMRC records. Employers were asked to provide data on the pay period that included 22 April 2020.