Companies with at least 250 employees have until midnight tonight to publish their gender pay gap

Publishing the gender pay gap provides an opportunity for businesses to “drive change in their workplaces”, says the head of UK employers’ group the CBI.

Director-general Carolyn Fairbairn spoke as the Government deadline approached for British companies to report the differences in salaries between men and woman.

Organisations with at least 250 employees must publish their gender pay gap, bonus pay gap and reveal the proportion of men and women in each quartile of the business by midnight tonight (Wednesday 4 April).

Ms Fairbairn said: “Gender pay gap reporting is an opportunity for businesses to drive change in their workplaces.

“For the first time, every larger firm will know the average pay difference between men and women in their company.

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn (via CBI)

“What gets measured gets changed - helping to develop more inclusive workplaces and support more women into senior roles.

“There’s nothing more important for firms than attracting and retaining the best possible people. Companies want to close the gender pay gap.

“They have plenty of good practice to draw on – from great flexible working policies, to widening recruitment and engaging with schools to inspire young women into STEM subjects.

“It’s important that the gender pay gap is not confused with unequal pay, which is already illegal.”

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Some 8,870 of the UK’s 9,000 eligible firms had published their results by this morning (Wednesday 4 April), leaving many with little time remaining.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said those that fail to make the deadline will be named and shamed, and could even face court action.

“Firms have had plenty of warning and have no excuse for failing to submit their gender pay gap data accurately and on time.

“But businesses can’t close the gap by themselves.

“Many of the causes of the gender pay gap lie outside the workplace, and will require a partnership between companies and Government if we are to deliver long-term, lasting change.”

Prime Minister Theresa May admitted the disclosures would make for “uncomfortable reading” but said it was vital the “burning injustice” was tackled.

In a Daily Telegraph column published this morning, she said: “It is essential that we do so.

“Most importantly, because equality for women is a right, and our whole society is the poorer as long as it remains unrealised.”