The first deadline for companies with 250 or more employees to publish their gender pay gap figures has now passed. The data collected, whilst imperfect (not accounting for full time versus part time/long serving employees or comparing like for like jobs), does appear to suggest an inherent inequality of opportunity, with almost 78% of companies paying men more than women and an average median pay gap of 9.7%.

Somewhat surprisingly, retail companies reported some of the largest gender pay gaps notwithstanding that their workforces are largely made up of women: Karen Millen having a median hourly pay gap rate of 49% and women’s median bonus pay being 96% lower than men’s. Coast also reported a median pay gap of 40.26%, Phase Eight, 54.5% and ASOS 40.9%. Benefit Cosmetics, whose workforce is 95% female, also published a median gap of 30.7%.

A number of companies have sought to justify their pay gaps by stating that they have more men in senior positions which, whilst might explain the gender pay gap results, is not in itself a winning argument when discussing gender inequality.

Whether or not the figures are truly representative of the gender pay gap however, it cannot be denied that the reporting requirements have brought a fresh focus on this issue and are forcing transparency as to internal pay and promotion structures and the need to increase women on boards. This, together with the online #PayMeToo campaign, launched by Stella Creasy and a cross-party group of female MPs, will hopefully ensure that all employers (whether they are required to report their gender pay gap or not) will be alive to the issues of gender inequality within the workplace and will strive to eradicate it.