The space between

Analysis of gender and ethnicity pay gaps in UK organisations active in global health

The gender pay gap measures the difference in earnings between men and women – regardless of roles and seniority – in a workforce. It is more than a data point – the gender pay gap tells a complex story of inequality across the life course. GH5050 explores this story in its report ‘The space between: Analysis of gender and ethnicity pay gaps in UK organisations active in global health 

The report reveals that after five years of mandatory reporting, organisations are closing the gender pay gap. The pace, however, is glacial. We urge organisations active to commit to transparency, accountability and equality, including by publishing their gender and ethnicity pay gap data. 

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Why does pay gap reporting matter? 

Inequalities in opportunities, power and privilege shape our working lives. Career opportunities are deeply different for different groups of people, including access to education, recruitment and promotion, occupational segregation and the so-called ‘motherhood penalty’. These dynamics result in certain groups occupying higher status and better paid positions than other groups – resulting in what are called ‘pay gaps’. 

Increasing transparency on pay gaps helps to ensure that employers are being fair and can be used to hold them accountable for closing the gap. In the UK, reporting the gender pay gap has been mandatory since 2017 for organisations with more than 250 employees. The law has driven an unprecedented level of transparency on the gender pay gap in the UK and provided valuable information to employers and employees on inequality inside their organisations. To date, reporting the ethnicity pay gap remains voluntary. 

What did we find on pay gap data?

This report looks at the gender pay gap of 42 organisations and the ethnicity pay gap of 13 organisations that have a presence in the UK, drawn from the larger GH5050 sample. This analysis complements our annual Global Health 50/50 Report, Workplaces: worse for women, which tracks and publicises the policies and practices of nearly 200 organisations active in global health for their commitments to gender equality.

We found that:

  • The 2022 median gender pay gap was 10.9%, which was lower than the 2022 UK median of 14.9%. Since 2017, the median gender pay gap has decreased by 1.8 percentage points. 
  • The median gender bonus pay gap stood at 15.2%. This is a notable decrease of 8.2 percentage points since 2017, but remains wide.  
  • The median ethnicity pay gap in 2022 was 3.7% (favouring white employees), which was higher than the 2020 UK median of -1.6% (favouring ethnic minority employees).  
“Having worked on the UK Gender Pay Gap legislation, I was delighted to see the bargaining power it gave women when they finally had a number to prove what they had always suspected – that they were earning less than their male colleagues.”
Ann Keeling, Senior Fellow of Women in Global Health and Chair of the NGO Age International

Moving forward: From data to action

Transparency is essential for accountability. Although reporting of pay gaps is not required in most countries, organisations active in global health, many of which are meant to be advancing social justice, should strive to make pay gap information available to their employees. Few organisations in the GH5050 sample voluntarily publish their gender pay gap data. We applaud those that chose to do so and encourage others to follow suit.  

Image: Free Child Care, Mehreen Zain, Pakistan (2023)