Smaller companies should be forced to report the gender pay gap within their organisations, MPs have said.
The business select committee made the recommendation in its analysis of gender pay gap reporting, suggesting the threshold for companies that have to report be lowered from 250 employees to 50.
MPs argued that only half of the UK workforce was covered by the requirements introduced this year, and that there was evidence suggesting the pay gap was greater among smaller businesses.
Other recommendations included an obligation for businesses to explain and produce an action plan for closing any gender pay gap, with firms having to report on progress each year.
The government’s decision not to require the inclusion of equity partners’ pay packets in reported figures was criticised by the committee.
MPs suggested that the exclusion of equity partners from pay gap reporting made “a nonsense of efforts to understand the scale of, and reasons behind” the figures.
The key takeaways from Inspire Me workshops analysing why there is a lack of women at the top, the work being done by firms to tackle the imbalance, and what more the industry needs to do.
Select committee chair Rachel Reeves said: “Gender pay reporting has helped to shine a light on how men dominate the highest-paid sectors of the economy and the highest-paid occupations within each sector.
“Our analysis found that some companies have obscene and entirely unacceptable gender pay gaps of more than 40 per cent.
“A persistent gender pay gap shows that companies are failing to harness fully the talents of half the population.”
Ms Reeves cited flexible working as one of the critical challenges emerging from the figures.
“The penalties of working part-time, both financial and in terms of career progression, are a major cause,” she said. “Companies need to take a lead.
“For example, why aren’t they offering flexible working at senior levels?
“They must look at why they have a pay gap, and then determine the right initiatives, policies and practices to close it.
“Chief executives should have stretching targets in their KPIs and be held to account for any failure to deliver.”
All companies with more than 250 employees are now legally obligated to publish their gender pay gap, with the first deadline for submission passing in April 2018.
Construction News analysis of the data showed women were paid nearly a third less than men across the 100 largest contractors by turnover.
The largest difference among the CN100 contractors was Bam Construct, where the gender pay gap stood at 59.6 per cent.
Today CN revealed that men dominate top jobs among the UK’s 20 largest contractors, with seven out of every eight executive board roles held by male employees
Inspire Me: Get involved
CN’s Inspire Me campaign aims to support getting more women into senior industry roles. Our next free workshop is on Thursday 18 October in Birmingham. To find out more about joining the discussion and supporting the campaign, go online at inspireme.constructionnews.co.uk