Analysis: Most banks are closing the gender pay gap in the UK, UBS and Deutsche Bank are backtracking

The Canary Wharf business district is seen at dusk in London, Britain December 11, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

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  • Finance remains one of the most unequal sectors in the UK, despite progress
  • Large company pay gap of 32.1%, above the UK average
  • Goldman Sachs has the largest gender pay gap in the sample at 51.3%
  • UBS, Aviva and M&G publish ethnic pay gaps for the first time

LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) – Britain’s big financial firms collectively narrowed their gender pay gaps last year, but some have backtracked, including UBS and Deutsche Bank, according to a Reuters analysis.

UK companies with more than 250 employees have been required to disclose the difference between pay and bonuses for their male and female employees since 2017. They had a deadline of April 4 this year for disclosures until April 2021.

This year, several financial firms also released voluntary data on ethnic pay – some, including UBS, Aviva and M&G, for the first time. Where companies broke down data by ethnic group, black staff suffered the largest pay gaps.

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The gender pay exercise has cast a bad light on the country’s financial services, which are vital to the UK economy but also one of its most unequal sectors.

Reuters has compiled pay gap data from 21 major financial institutions. It showed an average gender pay gap of 32.1%, just over 1% lower than the previous year’s average.

Despite the improvement, the gap is much wider than the average for all UK employers, which stood at 14.9% in the year to April 2020.

“Given the importance of the sector to the UK, it would be much better if financial services were ahead rather than lagging behind,” said Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute.

Pay gaps in some of the UK branches of major global investment banks remain stubbornly wide, which institutions blame on the overrepresentation of men at senior levels.

Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs International (GS.N) once again accounted for the industry’s widest gender pay gap among companies surveyed, with men working for the bank in Britain receiving an average of 51 .3% more hourly wage than women.

This is down slightly from 51.8% the previous year.

“I assure you that while progress may at times seem slow, our diversity and inclusion program remains at the forefront,” Richard Gnodde, CEO of the unit, told staff in a memo on Monday.

Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) and UBS (UBSG.S) both lost ground, their spreads widening by around 1% to 33.4% and 29% respectively.

Deutsche Bank said it aimed for at least 35% of senior positions to be held by women by 2025, while UBS said progress would not be linear, but would expected to achieve its medium and long-term objectives.

Insurer Admiral (ADML.L) was the only financial firm surveyed by Reuters to have a pay gap below the UK average, at 14.4%, although this has widened from the previous 12.8%.

The analysis also covered Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest, Standard Chartered, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, PGMS (a unit of Phoenix), abrdn, Schroder Investment Management, St James’s Place, Legal & General and Prudential.

WAGE DIFFERENCES BY ETHNICITY

Several of those interviewed also voluntarily disclosed ethnic pay gap figures for the year to April 2021, reflecting increased attention to racial inequality in the industry in recent years.

Four companies – UBS, NatWest, Lloyds and M&G – showed that ethnic minority staff were paid less on average than white colleagues.

Aviva showed the opposite, while data from HSBC and Barclays showed close parity.

However, HSBC and Barclays provided an additional breakdown which showed black employees earned significantly less on average than other ethnic groups.

Barclays said the bank’s black employees had a gap of 19.2%, while HSBC said the gap was 22.9%.

Barclays and HSBC said the figures reflected the under-representation of black staff at senior levels and that they had adopted policies to try to address this issue.

The government has come under pressure from equality campaigners to make reporting of ethnicity-related pay gaps mandatory for companies.

“Gender accountability has taken us from thirty to thousands of inequality-sensitive employers — people of color deserve the same attention,” said Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of the women’s rights group. Fawcett Society.

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Reporting by Iain Withers and Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Barbara Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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