The gender pay gap is closing in Wandsworth and Richmond councils, but there is “still more they can do”.

A report released ahead of a Standards Committee meeting at Wandsworth shows that in 2017/18 men were paid 5.97 per cent more than women on average per hour worked.

This figure, based on the mean averages, shows a greater disparity than the difference between the median averages – 2.76 per cent.

These are down from 6.8 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively in the previous year.

The report states that the councils, who share staff, are “pleased” that the gap is reducing, and is well below the national average, and the local government average.

One area where men are still paid a large amount more is in bonuses, which are given out for recruitment and retention, or based on performance.

Slightly more men than women (72.18 per cent compared to 68.87 per cent) were paid a bonus in the first place, and those bonuses were 26.51 per cent bigger on average (10.34 per cent median).

The report continues: “However, there’s still more we can do to reduce the gap further and to ensure that all colleagues in the [shared staffing arrangement] are supported to develop, progress and achieve their full potential.”

The councils are reviewing their terms and conditions, and have introduced leadership and mentoring programmes to support people from under-represented groups to get to senior positions.

They also plan to make flexible working – an arrangement more popular among women – easier, and are working on reducing ‘unconscious bias’ during recruitment (e.g. by blanking out names).

Studies suggest the gender pay gap can exist for a few reasons:

A higher proportion of women work in professions that are less well-paid as a whole, and many high-paying sectors are made up mostly of male workers

A much higher proportion of women work part-time, meaning they gain less experience

Women are less likely to progress “up the career ladder” into more senior, higher-paying jobs

The undervaluing of women’s work continues, along with gender stereotypes

A higher proportion of women take on unpaid caring roles, e.g. for children or relatives, which can mean a reduction in hours or a career break