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Gender pay gap: The firms short-changing women staff across the north of Scotland

Three-quarters of firms in the north and north-east pay men more than women, new statistics show.

Almost 100 companies, with more than 250 employees, across Grampian and the Highlands submitted their gender pay gap figures to the Government Equalities Office in time for yesterday’s deadline.

Of those who responded 76% admitted males within their business were on higher salaries than their female colleagues. This compares to 80% nationally.

Oil firm with 65% pay gap reacts to findings

Last night politicians and business leaders said it was about time companies were forced to disclose the results as it was helping to “shine a light” on pay inequality.

However, it was accepted that more still needed to be done.

Leading Aberdeen employment lawyer for Pinsent Masons, Katie Williams, said the figures were “unsurprising” given the highly technical nature of the oil and gas industry which dominates the north-east’s employment sector.

She said: “I have probably read about 100 reports from oil and gas companies and there’s a huge amount of consistency. None of it comes as any surprise. It’s been a problem in the economy and the workforce for decades.

“What is interesting is that for the first time there is some real light being shone upon it in terms of what it is doing to pay within the organisation, and how does this translate into how men and women are paid?

“It is a massive step forward in that sense because we have never had that level of scrutiny before.”

She said the problem with the way the data was being submitted was that it did not show the “real picture” of pay inequality.

Significant gender pay gap found within largest north-east energy firms

She said: “This is essentially a set of mathematical calculations which are based on all of the earnings of all of the roles in the workforce, so it’s a pretty blunt instrument to determine whether there is pay equality in the workforce or not.

“To get a picture, the reporting would need to be broken down into a much more granular form so that the reporting compared the same role.”

Of the north-east firms which published their results, haulage company ARR Craib, of Aberdeen, reported a 9.9% median pay gap – favouring women.

Andrea Logan, the firm’s human resources (HR) director, said: “The nature of the work we do attracts a high number of male employees.

“However, irrespective of gender there is no differential in any element of our driver wages; both male and female drivers are paid the same rates for doing the same excellent job.

“The roles of our non-driving female employees are mainly administrative, professional and managerial, and attract higher-than-average salaries. We are proud to report that females are represented in all departments across the business, including at board level.”

Aberdeen International Airport (AIA) reported a 16% median gap in favour of men – compared to the Scottish average of 9.46% and the north-east average of 9.93%.

An AIA spokeswoman said: “We are committed to being a diverse and inclusive organisation and believe the differences identified in this report will help us to achieve our ultimate aim of eliminating the gender pay gap within our business. This ambition will require efforts at all levels within our organisation together with step changes across the wider economy.”

Aberdeen Asset Managers and Standard Life Investments, both now part of Scottish financial services giant Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA), reported median pay gaps of 37%. Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life, which merged last year, both had a median pay gap of 31%, as of last April.

SLA chief people officer Kerry Christie said: “We know that the gender pay figures we have published show we need to take action. We are absolutely committed to improving these figures and we have said from the outset that we welcome this legislation as a catalyst for change. There’s no quick fix.”

International Moray brand, Fochabers-based food firm Baxters, had a median pay gap of 6.7% and median bonus gap of -18.1%. The company did not respond to a request for a comment.

Elgin-based builder, Springfield Properties, said a massive median bonus gap in favour of women reflected different roles and pay structures within the firm, where around 95% of the sales staff are women and most of the workers on its sites are men.

Last night a spokesman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission would not confirm which companies had not yet complied but said those who do not respond to a written request to supply their data will be “named and shamed” and could potentially face a hefty fine.