Equal Pay / Gender Pay Gap

Hi everyone,

Possibly a pedantic query, or maybe it's just me not being as clued up as I should be, but after an hour of googling, I'm just getting more and more frustrated at not seeing clear-cut results I'd expect. 

I work in a small company of 15 employees, so gender pay gap reporting is not something that we actually have to do, however I think it's good to know for a wide range of issues regarding diversity, recruitment practices, development, etc. Also, as I'm looking into various areas regarding a Fair Work Policy, the Scottish Business Pledge, and a few others, it comes up quite a bit.

And the thing that's throwing me is that we call it a Gender Pay Gap, but is it? Or would it be more accurate to call it a Sex Pay Gap? It seems like most websites predominantly use the terms "men" and "women", but many of these sites will also interchangeably use "male/female" on the same article or page. I know that these terms being used interchangeably is a common issue, but not one I would have expected to encounter on sites like ACAS or Gov.uk, and certainly not on issues surrounding sex/gender.

ACAS extract below:

"By law, men and women must get equal pay for doing 'equal work'. This is work that equal pay law classes as the same, similar, equivalent or of equal value.

This means someone must not get less pay compared to someone who is both:

Despite the start referring to men/women, I would focus on the two bullet point criteria and say that equal pay is based around sex. Is gender pay gap the same despite it's misleading name? 

Thanks in advance!

  • Hi Laura

    ‘ Gender’ is primarily a social construct whereas ‘sex’ is both physical or biological and almost totally binary. When it comes to pay gap reporting, it differentiates between males and females as a socio-economic classification as opposed to biological, so it’s how males and females identify themselves and how those with whom they interact identify them that matters rather than their physical sexual characteristics. So ‘gender pay….’ is correct terminology in this context whereas ‘sexual pay….’ isn’t (and of course is somewhat more ambiguous!)

    The topic is thoroughly covered eg here


    I wouldn’t have thought fifteen employees anything like a big enough sample from which to calculate any meaningful aggregate or overall organisational gender pay gap statistics or metrics. Far better perhaps to ponder the various reasons why there can be significant gender pay gaps generally in the context of your own particular organisation and consider how best you might work to mitigate them.

  • Hello Sarah,
    I work in a small business too (14 employees) and would like to hear from your experience - did you actually decide to go ahead with the Gender Pay Gap report?
    It would be great to connect and chat about this!
    Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn - LinkedIn.com/in/maria-pentangelo
    Speak soon,