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Mind the Gap! The Importance of Pay Gap Reporting in Local Government

Mind the Gap! The Importance of Pay Gap Reporting in Local Government

by OneAdvanced PR, Author

Reporting Requirements

The reporting of gender pay gap data has been a legal requirement for UK organisations with 250 or more employees since 2017. This applies to the majority of local authorities within the UK, while the few that fall outside of this obligation report on a voluntary basis. Below we look at the importance of pay gap reporting and how this data can be used to create better outcomes for employees and the local authority organisations they work for.

The State of Play

Recent data from the Office of National Statistics (2023) shows that women working in local government administrative roles currently earn 6.9% less than their male counterparts. In 2022, this figure stood at 11.7% – while local government appears to be moving in the right direction, there remains work to do in closing the gap.


Pay gap reporting is important since it provides a useful benchmark for future improvements. Organisations should aim for a fairly balanced workforce, with equal pay, and unbiased performance measures in place for all employees. Historical data should be collated and compared, ensuring that inclusivity targets are being improved upon over time.

The Benefits of Closing the Gap

Through transparent reporting and the sharing of pay gap data with employees, staff members can feel confident they are valued, and that (as is the case in local government) the organisation is moving in the right direction.

In the light of high levels of attrition within local government, organisations that take proactive measures to close the gender pay gap will become an attractive Employee Value Proposition (EVP) for potential hires. In turn, the reputation of the authority will be enhanced, improving retention rates and job satisfaction for existing employees.  

With equality of pay, more women are likely to be motivated to pursue certain ‘male-led’ career paths including senior management and ‘C-suite’ positions, bringing a wider base of experiences and skills. In the recruitment phase, HR leaders will have a wider talent pool to choose from, increasing the likelihood of finding the right candidate for each position.

There is also a financial incentive at play. If women are more reasonably renumerated post-maternity, they are more likely to return to the workforce, despite the relatively high cost of childcare. Currently, many families are better off financially when the main child carer remains at home.

Steps to Close the Gap

  • In order to close the gender pay gap, local authorities can implement a number of practicable measures:

Conduct an audit

  • Organisations that currently report on pay gap should take a look at their historical data to see where they stand. Have improvements been made over time, and in which job roles? If significant gaps exist in specific areas, these should be prioritised in any future recruitment drive.

Recruit from a wide talent pool

  • HR teams should look outside of their existing recruitment channels in order to widen the pool of talent. This may include posting job ads on diversity-focused agency websites, and asking recruitment teams to longlist a specific number of female applicants.

Create equal opportunities for promotion

  • Across UK organisations, men are typically given greater opportunity for promotion. Senior leaders should give female employees equal opportunity to take on project management and other leaderships roles that provide relevant experience leading to promotion.

Encourage salary negotiation

  • Studies have shown that during pay reviews and appraisals, men are more likely to request an increase in salary. Government organisations should foster a culture that encourages salary negotiations for all colleagues with clear pay ranges stated in advance.

Avoid questions on current salary during interview

  • Many organisations and recruitment agencies ask for current salary figures at varying stages of the interview process. This is a common negotiating tactic, and women typically set their salary expectations lower than men, thus perpetuating the gender pay gap.

Remove unconscious bias

  • Unconscious bias typically creeps in (despite best intentions) during the screening and hiring process. When reviewing CV’s, HR managers should redact information on names, gender, and location, giving all applicants a fair chance based on skills and experience.

Carry out exit interviews

  • By carrying out exit interviews, senior leaders and HR managers can collaborate to develop the inclusionary practices of the organisation. If, for example, a woman leaving her role cites lack of opportunity for progression, this would suggest a clear area for improvement.

Offer flexible and part time working

  • Women with children looking to get back into the workforce may require part time or flexible working. Part time workers in particular, can experience limited wage progression; these employees should be afforded the same opportunities as full-time employees, including the chance to progress, network, and learn.

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