Firms 'tinker in bid to shut gender pay gap with benefits like flexible working'

Firms are "tinkering around the edges" in trying to close the gender pay gap by offering benefits such as flexible working, according to a new report.

A study found that the biggest gender pay gap was in the East Midlands at almost 34%, followed by the South East (30%), North East (28%) and West Midlands (26%).

Advice firm Korn Ferry Hay Group said its research among over half a million workers showed there were fewer women in the highest-paying industries such as oil and gas, technology and life sciences.

Ben Frost, of Korn Ferry Hay Group, said: "Overall, the headline pay gap across the UK shows that men are paid vastly more than women.

"However, the data confirms that a man and a woman in the same company, doing the same job, will usually be paid nearly the same, though still favouring men by an average of 1.6%.

"This shows that organisations still aren't dealing with the real issue here - which is that we need more women working in higher paying jobs and industries and at the most senior levels.

"At the moment firms are tinkering around the edges by offering benefits like flexible working to address the issue. More fundamental change needs to happen."

London's mayor has described the gender pay gap in the capital as "unacceptable" after he revealed figures showing differences of up to 35% between the pay of men and women in public organisations.

Sadiq Khan called on Greater London Authority (GLA) bodies to publish action plans to address the problem.

The figures showed no gender pay gap in the London Fire Brigade, 3.3% in the mayor's office for crime and policing, 4.6% in the GLA, 11.6% in the Met Police, 19.2% in Transport for London and 35% in the London Legacy Development Corporation, which is dealing with post-London Olympics issues.