There is confusion about what the gender pay gap is, with only one in five knowing what it measures

Over half (52%) of all UK adults think that the gender pay gap will never completely close, our new research reveals.

The data shows that while 46% of men believe it will never close, this figure rises to almost six in ten (59%) among women. Older people are also more pessimistic, with over six in ten (63%) people aged 65+ believing it won’t ever disappear, compared to just under half (48%) of under-25s.

Under new legislation, companies in the UK with 250 employees or more are legally required to publish their gender pay gap by 4th April 2018.  The gender pay gap is the percentage difference between average hourly earnings for men and women.

YouGov data suggests that people are over-estimating the extent of the discrepancies between men’s and women’s wages. When asked what they think the UK’s overall pay gap is currently the average answer was 40%, while just over a fifth (22%) believe it is over 50%. The actual figure reported by ONS in 2017 was 18.4%. 

Knowledge gap over pay gap

The research also highlights the amount of misunderstanding that exists among the public around what the gender pay gap is. A sizable majority (71%) of the public choose the wrong definition – that the gender pay gap is “the difference in pay between men and women doing the same job”. This compares to just one in five (20%) that picked the correct answer – that it is “the difference between average earnings for men and women regardless of what job they do.”

Ahead of companies publishing figures on the gap, our research shows that a majority (53%) say their perception of a company would get worse if it is shown to have a wide differences in how much they pay different genders. Women especially would have a worse view of a company, with approaching two-thirds (64%) stating that their perception would become more negative, compares to just over four in ten (43%) men.

Research commissioned amongst YouGov’s Opinion Formers (a panel of influential UK individuals) shows that four in ten (41%) are concerned that publishing gender data on the pay gap will have a negative impact on their organisation, although half (50%) disagree.

Although both opinion formers and the public believe that the data about the gender pay gap coming out may lead to organisations being seen in a negative light, the majority (62%) of the population at large think it is a good idea that businesses should publish the data.

You may also like: Businesses say gender pay gap exists – just not in their organisations

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