Gender pay gap widens at department run by women and equalities minister Truss

Sam Blewett, PA Political Correspondent
·2-min read

The gender pay gap has significantly widened at the Department for International Trade (DIT) run by women and equalities minister Liz Truss, new figures reveal.

Labour said the growing divide “raises serious questions” about the Government’s commitment to close the gender pay gap when Ms Truss’s department is “clearly going backwards”.

The gap in the DIT, which Ms Truss took over in July last year, has widened every year since the first report in 2017, when the mean stood at 3.6%.

Under Ms Truss, the mean rose to 6.5% in 2020, while the median increased to 15.9% from 2.7% three years earlier.

The mean bonus pay gap has also gone from 14.4% in favour of women in 2017 to 7.3% in favour of men in 2020.

A DIT spokeswoman said the department had hired more women than men over the past year but claimed the gap was widened due to the “overall distribution of women across (pay) grades”.

But shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova said: “It raises serious questions about the Government’s commitment to closing the gender pay gap when the department run by the minister for women and equalities is so clearly going backwards when it comes to average pay and bonuses.”

Felicia Willow, chief executive of the Fawcett Society women’s rights charity, said there is a “real risk” the gender pay gap will widen across the country when the impacts of the pandemic are fully realised.

“To help push against that tide, employers need to take decisive action. The Department for International Trade has set out a proactive plan on its pay gap – they will need to explore the reasons for this negative change and adjust that plan accordingly,” she said.

“But Government has a vital wider role to play. The Fawcett Society is keen to see gender pay gap reporting reinstated urgently, extended to all employers of 100 employees or more and to cover ethnicity, and to require all employers, not just Government departments, to take action.”

The DIT spokeswoman said: “DIT is committed to ensuring it is a leader in gender equality and we are actively working on evidence-based actions to ensure that all staff have the opportunity and ability to pursue their goals and achieve their potential whilst working for the department.

“Over the last year, DIT has hired more women than men, including into senior Civil Service roles, but the overall distribution of women across grades has contributed to widening our gender pay gap.”