Revealed: Wigan's gender pay gap

Council bosses say they are 'bucking the trend,' health chiefs admit they have some way to go, and others have blamed shift patterns.

Friday, 13th April 2018, 3:20 pm
Updated Friday, 13th April 2018, 3:26 pm
Gender pay differences in Wigan revealed

If nothing else, Wigan’s response to new gender pay gap reporting provisions has thrown up some interesting discoveries.

An average UK gap gap of 17.4 per cent was the benchmark for borough employers.

But for the 5,100 employed by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) the mean difference between men and women is 35.39 per cent.

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Wigan Council CEO Donna Hall

While nearly 80 per cent of the workforce are female, this trend is nearly reversed within the higher-paying medical and dental sectors, leading to the wider disparity. But change may be on the way.

A WWL spokesman said; “The overall number of female medical students and trainees is increasing and so we should start to see an overall shift in the gender make-up of the medical and dental workforce in the medium to longer term.

“However the trust will also give this matter due consideration and identify if there are any local actions it also wishes to consider in response to this issue.”

Borough council chief executive Donna Hall has highlighted that the authority has a 2.1 per cent pay gap in favour of women.

Wigan Infirmary

She said: “Gender equality is something which we are incredibly passionate about and I’m proud of the work we’re doing to support it.

“We currently have a -2.1 per cent gender pay gap, meaning the average hourly wage for a woman working for us is actually slightly above that for a man.”

Seventy per cent of town hall staff are female, with women making up 54 per cent of the senior management team.

“Men still continue to make up the majority of highest paid and senior roles in the UK so, although there’s still some way to go, it’s refreshing to see more women leaders in senior positions in the authority and increasingly across Greater Manchester,” added Ms Hall.

Wigan Council CEO Donna Hall

In the private sector, the absence of women in the board room is often cited as a key factor behind reported differences.

But for Kitt Green based Heinz, where the gap is 19 per cent in manafacturing, bosses believe it is more down to shift patterns.

Georgiana de Noronha, Kraft Heinz vice-president for people and performance, said: “Within our manufacturing operations the working patterns that our colleagues chose has been a key driver in our pay gap.

“When we looked at the impact of premium hours, which includes weekends, nights and bank holidays, we found that more male colleagues choose to work these shifts, which leads to an added premium in their earnings.”

Wigan Infirmary

Without those extra payments, the gap is said to drop to 3.2 per cent.

Higher promotion rates for women and improved hiring ratios are planned there.

Another food industry giant, Bakkavor, has a 10,8 gap in favour of men.

Pippa Greenslade, group HR director, said: “We are encouraged that this is lower than the current national mean pay gap and also that for the food and manufacturing sector (14.5 per cent).

“However, we understand that there is more that we can do to promote diversity and embed a culture of gender equality across our business.”

They could take a leaf out of Leigh-based AB World Foods, where the disparity is 7.4 per cent in favour of women.

MD Andy Mayhew said: “We believe there is a sustainable competitive advantage in having a diverse talent pool and cultivating an inclusive working environment where everyone can perform to their best.”

Dave Whelan’s 2,000-strong DW Sports Fitness group has an average gap of 6.2 per cent - though frontline staff are paid the same the proportion of retail and fitness club senior posts are held by males.

A DW official said: “Internal promotion and progression is a key part of our business model and with the recent introduction of a talent mapping process and development in our learning and development function we are assured of fair and equal opportunities for all.”

Standish-based Ainscough Crane Hire sees a two per cent gap benefitting male employees, which is accounted for by most women working in sales and head office roles, rather than operational work.

Waterfields in Leigh has a gap of 14.2 per cent - and while in manafacturing this edges slightly the opposite way in retail, comprising the bulk of their workforce, there are 302 women and only one man, skewing their figures somewhat.

Meanwhile Wigan-based hotel owner and holiday tour operator Shearings is reporting a 22.8 per cent gap, with women losing out.

Wigan and Leigh College has a female-heavy staff roll of just over 60 per cent - but a pay gap of 6.05 per cent in favour of men, while at local leisure trust Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, female staff are 8.8 per cent behind their male counterparts. Arrow XL, in Wigan, has a 14.3 per cent gap, on the men’s side.

Police have also revealed that while there is only a 2.6 per cent gap for male officers over women this rises to 6.85 per cent for support staff.

Firefighters have further to go, with a mean pay gap of 10.5 per cent reported by brigade chiefs.