The gender pay gap is the narrowest it has ever been, yet workers still believe men are paid more than women.

According to our survey of employees, the perception persists across a number of sectors but is worse in traditionally male-dominated industries with 35% of workers citing employer attitudes as one of the main reasons holding women back.

The report reveals that sectors such as care, finance and construction still suffer from dated perceptions regarding equal pay as many workers still believe there is a significant pay gap between the sexes. Our survey respondents also believe a glass ceiling still exists for women, with 47% stating that it is harder for women to make it into top jobs.

When reflecting on these new findings, Randstad Middle East and UK MD, Mark Bull, said: “Gender equality is not something we have to really fight for anymore. Yet, this perception endures.
“While some pay differences can be attributed to lifestyle choices, such as women taking time out to have children or care for family members, plenty more work is required to improve perceptions and ensure that male and female workers are paid equally.”

The difficulties women face when asking for a raise
Our report also reveals that women are less likely to ask for a raise, averaging two pay rises every five years compared to three for men. The top reasons for not asking for a raise were fear of jeopardising their current job and receiving a negative reaction from a boss or colleagues.

Mark Bull believes new government proposals, which will compel companies with more than 250 employees to publish their bonuses and the average difference between male and female pay, will go some way to redressing the balance. However, he also argues that companies still need to be careful about the image and brand they cultivate in order to avoid gaining an adverse reputation for not respecting gender equality.

In response to the new findings he said: “A company which has a poor reputation, deserved or not, about how it treats its female employees is automatically cutting its talent pool in half.

“HR managers need to show employees are treated equally regardless of gender, not just during the recruitment process, but in the everyday running of the business. If they don’t do this, they will find they have fewer candidates of a high caliber to choose from because those candidates will automatically gravitate towards companies with better reputations. 

“Long term this can affect a company’s productivity and ultimately their bottom line if they are having to spend more on recruiting because their employer reputation is poor and, therefore, staff turnover is high.”

Are you thinking of asking for a pay rise? Click here to find what you need to consider before you begin negotiations.  

Why do women receive less?

One of the reasons women may receive fewer pay rises than men is because they tend to ask less. Whilst a third of men have asked for a raise in the last three years, just a fifth of women had done the same. However, 57% of respondents had received pay rises regardless, which indicates that there has actually been a concerted drive towards parity and equality by many employers.

Different sectors had different results and those working predominantly in public sector industries tended to receive pay rises without asking; perhaps because published pay scales are the norm.
The majority of workers in education hadn’t asked but were awarded pay rises anyway, probably due to the system of automatic pay progression which was previously based on length of service before it was abolished in 2013. 

Overall, just 3% said their pay had actually decreased and this was attributed to spending more time with their family (25%), a change in career (23%) or going for a role with less responsibility (15%) rather than any kind of discrimination.

You can read our full report to find out more about our research into the perceptions which currently surround the gender pay gap.