Gender pay gap revealed: how the UK’s biggest employers compare

From Meta to McDonalds, Greggs to Google, we take a look at how some of the UK's biggest employers have performed in their latest gender pay gap reports

Since 2017, organisations that employ more than 250 people have been required to publish the difference in pay between men and women. But despite the pressure to close gap, the majority of the UK’s biggest employers still pay men more than women.

Some still have gender pay gaps in excess of 10%, with the average mean difference in hourly pay across all businesses that have reported at 13.6%. This means that, on average, women are earning 86.4p for every £1 earned by men.

Football clubs continue to have some of the highest gender pay gaps, mostly due to the high levels of remuneration paid to professional male players. The difference in mean hourly pay between men and women at Sheffield United Football Club, for example, is 87.9%.

The rest of the private sector has posted mixed results in their ongoing efforts to achieve gender parity between men and women. Here we take a more detailed look at how some of the UK’s biggest employers have performed.

BBC gender pay gap

The difference in average pay between men and women at the BBC has been steadily decreasing since reporting was first mandated in 2017. 

From an initial gender pay gap of 10.7%, the public broadcaster now has a 5% difference in the mean hourly pay of men and women. The median pay gap has followed the same trajectory, meaning that on average women are paid 5p less for every £1 that men earn at the organisation.

In terms of bonus payments, women and men were rewarded the same amount.

The BBC also voluntarily publishes its pay gaps for black, Asian and minority ethnic staff, disabled staff, LGBTQ+ staff and those working part time. In its ongoing efforts to ensure equality across the organisation, the BBC has also outlined its ambitions to have a 50:20:12 split - a gender-balanced organisation, with at least 20% Black, Asian and ethnic minority staff and at least 12% disabled staff.

HSBC Bank gender pay gap

The British multinational bank employs around 220,000 people globally but has consistently struggled to close its gender pay gap.

Despite an improvement of four percentage points on the previous year, HSBC posted a mean hourly pay gap of more than 50% for the fifth year running. 

One of the key reasons for this is the much larger percentage of men that occupy high-paid positions at the company. Some 88% of the people in the upper pay quartile are male.

This has been a consistent problem for the banking sector in particular, with Lloyds Bank posting a mean hourly pay gap of 32.6% and Barclays recording a 24.1% difference in pay.

Jaguar Land Rover gender pay gap

Although Jaguar Land Rover’s pay gap was higher in 2021/22, when compared the the previous year, it still remains relatively low at 3.6%.

When comparing the median hourly pay of men and women, women were only paid 2p less than men at the car manufacturer.

The number of men that the company employs far outweighs the number of women across all pay quarters. However, because the split is relatively even across those on the lowest and highest pay (14.2% of people in the upper pay quartile and 16.6% of people in the lowest pay quartile are women), the overall gender pay gap remains small.

Tesco Stores gender pay gap

Tesco gender pay gap

In its latest gender pay report, Tesco CEO Jason Tarry acknowledges that, as one of the largest employers in the UK, the company has to represent the the communities it serves.

The supermarket’s mean hourly pay gap fell from 9.7% to 8.8%. Tarry says: “These figures continue to move in the right direction and are our lowest numbers since we started reporting. We are making progress, but we still have more to do.”

Some of the reasons given for this difference in pay include the higher proportion of men taking shifts at times that pay premiums, such as nights and bank holidays, and the higher number of men that hold senior roles at the company.

This was reflected in Tesco’s bonus pay gap for 2021, where women earned an average of 74p for every £1 that men were paid in bonuses.

WPP 2005 gender pay gap

WPP gender pay gap

WPP 2005, the parent company of the advertising company WPP, which was founded by Sir Martin Sorrell, posted a gender pay gap of 23.8%. This was less than half the company’s previous mean hourly pay gap of 48.6%.

When looking at median hourly pay figures, women earned 76p for every £1 made by men.

Commenting on the latest pay gap figures, WPP chief people officer Jennifer Remling says: “Investing in a culture where diversity thrives and everyone has the opportunity to do their best work powers our creativity and growth as a business. While we have seen a reduction in our UK gender pay gap across WPP, we need to continue to invest in the development of women at all levels to help them achieve their full potential.” 

One of the main reasons for the gender pay gap at WPP in 2021/22 was the lack of female representation at the top of the business. Women made up only 34% of people in the company’s highest pay quartile.

In an attempt to address this, WPP is committing to improve its efforts to attract and promote more women into senior roles. As part of its plans, it hopes to develop its career coaching programme, enrol more women into its global programmes and has partnered with Brixton Finishing School to provide free training for women over the age of 45 who want to enter the advertising industry.

Amazon UK Services gender pay gap

Amazon gender pay gap

Amazon UK Services looks after the ecommerce side of the tech giant’s business operations. In 2021/22 it’s mean gender pay gap tipped in the favour of women for the first time. 

Since hovering around the 1% mark since 2018, the company’s latest pay gap was -0.5%. Overall, the median hourly pay and bonus payments were equal for men and women.

Taking into account Amazon’s overall performance across all its UK operations, its mean gender pay gap is 6.3%.

An Amazon spokesperson says: “At Amazon we are committed to building a diverse, merit-based organisation which is reflected in our diversity initiatives and gender pay gap performance. We continually work to improve our gender diversity initiatives to actively recruit and help advance more women into senior and technology-focused roles as we grow our business here in the UK.”

Facebook UK gender pay gap

Facebook gender pay gap

Facebook UK, which is responsible for the UK operations of the recently rebranded Meta, posted a mean gender pay gap of 2.1% for the 2021/22 reporting year.

Although its median pay gap was 8.4%, the social media company claims to have a pay parity policy for people working in the same roles. 

The reason for the disparity in average pay for men and women at the company was because of the number of men working in senior technical roles, where rates of compensation are usually higher.

Meta claims that, since its first gender pay gap report in 2017, the proportion of women in leadership and technical roles has increased from 29% to 32%.

In order to further improve this number, Meta’s vice-president of international HR Elizabeth Runham says the company is ensuring its hiring policies are more diverse and is making its workplace more inclusive. This has included mandatory diversity and inclusion training for managers.

Greggs gender pay gap

Greggs gender pay gap
Greggs did not submit its gender pay gap in 2019/20 as reporting was not mandatory during the pandemic 

Last year, Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside said he was confident that the gender pay gap at the business was not due to men and women being paid differently to do the same jobs but was rather the result of the structure of the workforce. And it appears that the same factors have contributed to its gender pay gap this year.

The popular bakery chain’s mean gender pay gap increased year on year, from 12.5% to 15.2%.

Although the percentage of women in the company’s highest pay bracket is roughly the same as men (51%), the number of women in front line operations (the lowest quartile for hourly pay) exceeds men by three to one.

The company had struggled as a result of the Covid pandemic, posting its first full-year loss in 2020. However, it returned to profitable growth this year and as a result was able to share £16.6m with staff through its colleague profit sharing scheme.

Google UK gender pay gap

The gender pay gap closed slightly at Google, shrinking from 17% to 15% between 2020 and 2021. The median hourly pay gap at the company for the 2021/22 reporting year was also 15%, meaning that women are paid 15p less than men for every £1 they earn.

Once again, the biggest barrier to closing the gender pay gap at the company comes from the structure of the business and the disproportionate number of men in the highest paid positions. 

Ronan Harris, MD of Google UK and Ireland, says: “We are making progress in narrowing our gender pay gap, but there’s much more to do to increase representation of women in senior leadership positions and engineering roles. We’ll keep working with our colleagues and the wider industry to drive progress in diversity, equity and inclusion and create a culture of belonging for all our colleagues.”

The bonus pay gap also reflected this, with women earning 67p in bonus pay for every pound made by men.

British Airways gender pay gap

British Airways gender pay gap
British Airways did not submit its gender pay gap in 2019/20 as reporting was not mandatory during the pandemic 

Flag carrier airline British Airways has struggled to close its gender pay gap, which has increased from 35% in 2017/18 to 45.5% in this year’s disclosure.

This is, however, an improvement on the previous year, when on average women were paid less than half what men made. 

While the split between men and women in the lowest-paid positions is evenly split, the upper hourly pay quartile is 81.5% men. 

Surprisingly, women at the airline received more in bonus pay than men, on average. Women earned £1.03 for every pound that men were paid when comparing median bonus payouts. 

Marks and Spencer gender pay gap

M&S gender pay gap

The mean gender pay gap at Marks and Spencer has consistently been around 12% since reporting began in 2017. The latest report shows a pay difference of 12.5%.

When looking at the median figure, men and women earn roughly the same amount per hour. 

A spokesperson from the retailer says: “We are firmly committed to driving equal opportunities and rewarding all our colleagues fairly for the work they do at M&S.”

McDonald’s Restaurants gender pay gap

McDonald's gender pay gap

Over in the US, McDonald’s claims to be on track to close its gender pay gap this year. Currently women there earn 82 cents for every $1 earned by men.

In the UK, the company has already achieved pay parity, making it the only company on this list with a median hourly pay gap of zero.

Women who work under the golden arches also earned £1.12 for every pound earned by men when comparing median bonus pay for 2021/22.

Apple UK gender pay gap

Apple gender pay gap

Apple has one of the highest gender pay gaps of any Silicon Valley tech giant operating in the UK, although the company has managed to close its gender pay gap by 10 percentage points since 2017, reducing it from 26% to 16%.

Like many other tech companies, it has a workforce that is skewed male, especially in the highest paid positions.

The bonus pay gap at Apple shows a similar story, with women earning 58p for every pound men made.

In this article we use both the mean and the median gender pay gap. The mean is calculated by adding up the pay of all male or female employees and then dividing this number by the total number of males or females. The median is the central number of a dataset.