Revealed: New evidence reveals gender pay gaps at Irish-based UK companies

Men in Irish companies operating in the UK earn significantly more than their female counterparts, analysis by can show.

The results, based primarily on data from the UK, provide a glimpse ahead of Ireland’s first gender pay gap reporting season, when companies with over 250 employees will be required to disclose all pay gaps.

Around 660 Irish based companies will have to report differences in average wages and bonuses across their Irish operations to the Equality Department from 1 December.

Companies that are required to report their data include banks, academic bodies such as universities, media organizations – including Mediahuis Ireland, owner of this publication – and government bodies such as An Post.

The gap between the mean (average) hourly wage of women and men was around 16 percent in the sample of 53 companies analyzed by in 2021.

Most of the data is based on the companies’ activities in the UK, but some Irish figures were available. The firms selected were Irish owned, operated in Ireland or indicated that they intended to establish an Irish branch.

The pay gap was widest in law firms, transportation companies, management consultants and banks, with some tech companies also showing large differences.

In all but one of the companies surveyed, there were far more men than women in the highest-paid positions.

Manufacturing and transportation companies have the lowest percentage of women at the top of the pay scale and across the organization.

But the pay gap was high even when a significant proportion of women were employed across the company.

And in some firms that employed very few women, it was low—or nonexistent.

At Kingspan Insulated Panels, one of the manufacturer’s UK divisions, women are paid slightly more than men despite making up just 13 per cent of the total workforce.

That’s because they “make up more white-collar workers in the business,” the company said, while men fill the “worker” roles. However, men earned almost 20 percent more in bonuses at the company.

Ryanair had the widest pay gap of any Irish company surveyed, with men earning just over 45 per cent more an hour on average than women last year (up from over 60 per cent before the pandemic, with Covid furloughs skewing the data). Just 2.3 percent of pilots are female, and just 6.5 percent of women at Ryanair were in the highest pay bracket.

Financial giant Citigroup, consulting firm PwC, the UK arm of Bank of Ireland and Exertis, one of the UK companies of Irish multinational DCC, had gaps in the UK of over 30 percent.

Technology companies LinkedIn, Intel and Workday had gaps of over 20 percent in the UK.

Property developer Cairn Homes, energy company SSE, social media giant Twitter, clothing retailer Primark and aluminum can maker Ardagh all had pay gaps in the high teens.

Primark was the only company in the sample where women made up the vast majority of higher paid employees (nearly 70 percent in 2021). However, they earned an average of 70 percent fewer bonuses than men last year because “women receiving those payments were in junior positions and this skewed the results,” the company said.

Irish Ferries owner ICG had a 39 per cent female workforce (in 2020) but an average hourly pay gap of 26.2 per cent, with just 18.8 per cent being women in the top wage bracket. In its 2021 annual report, the company said this was “characteristic of the maritime industry”.

Tesco stores in the UK, where the wage gap was 9.3 per cent last year, have more male colleagues working Sunday nights and bank holidays – shifts that pay bonuses.

Smurfit Kappa paid women twice as much in bonuses as men last year, although the average hourly pay gap in the UK was still almost 10 per cent last year.

Government agencies, which tend to be unionized, perform better on gender equality and pay.

The BBC had a predominantly female workforce (55 per cent) last year and a narrow gender pay gap of 5 per cent.

The Central Bank of Ireland has one of the lowest gender pay gaps in the country at 2.2% and employs 48% of the workforce women.

But the Bank of Ireland employs almost as many women as men in Ireland, and yet women were paid an average of 23.8 per cent less per hour than men here last year. The Bank of Ireland has voluntarily disclosed its Irish pay gap for the past two years.

While the study is by no means exhaustive – and many of the 2021 figures are skewed due to pandemic layoffs and furlough schemes – it shows that the gender pay gap in certain sectors is far higher than official Irish and EU estimates, which put it at 11.3 percent in 2019.

A recent survey by IrishJobs subsidiary Universum found that the overall gender pay gap in Ireland – based on annual wages – is 16 per cent, with the IT sector showing the biggest difference. On average, men in IT earn 12,000 euros more per year than their female colleagues.

Laura Bambrick, head of social and employment affairs at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), said the problem was that women were underrepresented in “higher quality jobs”.

“The difficulty of the pay gap is not valuing the kind of work done by women as done by a man.

“You see it around elementary education and nursing. We rate occupations in which we see women less as very male-dominated. This is an international thing.” Revealed: New evidence reveals gender pay gaps at Irish-based UK companies

Fry Electronics Team

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