L&D Gender Pay Gap
Training & Learning

I get £1, you get 81p: The 19% L&D Gender Pay Gap, and What UK Employers Can Do About It

 

Salary transparency is a key remedy for pay inequality, particularly when it comes to the gender pay gap. Many argue it’s the best opportunity to eliminate bias within the workplace and increase diversity within organizations.

In fact, a recent study shows that pay transparency causes significant increases in both the equity and equality of compensation along with reductions in the link between pay and individually measured performance.

Culturally, we could be doing more to move in the right direction. Data from the Fawcett Society reveals that only 46% of men said they would probably tell a female colleague how much they earned if she asked, while 34% of men said they would be more likely to share their salary with a female colleague who suspected she was being paid unequally.

Focusing on employee willingness to share salary information is, however, missing the point. It's up to organisations to create transparency around salaries and help address the gender pay gap—including the gap in the L&D sector.

In this article, we dig into the numbers and present the most effective methods for how organisations can level the playing field and build equitable workplaces.

Why it pays to be transparent about salaries

Keeping salaries secret reinforces discrimination by allowing unconscious bias to creep into salary decisions, or for the gap to be distributed to those who negotiate their salary more aggressively, for example.

This really matters because our recent Great Resignation survey showed that, alongside unfulfillment and burnout, pay was one of the key reasons for employee’s quitting their jobs. 

In addition, our L&D Salary Benchmark report showed more than half of the 1,010 UK L&D professionals we polled weren’t comfortable asking for a pay increase, suggesting that employees are willing to quit rather than ask for a pay rise. Not only is this a problem of talent retention, but also a threat to an inclusive and diverse workplace.

So, how is the L&D field doing in the UK in our progress towards equalizing the gender pay gap?

Speaking of closing the gap—are you getting the salary you really deserve? Check out our cheat sheet for practical tips and guidance on your next remuneration discussion.

 

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More than half of the 1,010 UK L&D professionals we polled weren’t comfortable asking for a pay increase, suggesting that employees are willing to quit rather than ask for a pay rise.

The L&D gender pay gap is 19% in the UK

Our survey found that women are making less than men in L&D in the UK. 

The mean (average) salary for women was found to be £27,450, a 19% difference compared to the mean salary of £34,050 for men. 

We also found that men make more than women working in the same jobs.

For women respondents with the job title, learning and development specialist/administrator, the difference was 42%, earning a mean annual salary of £20,600 compared to the mean annual salary of £35,550 for men.

For women respondents with the job title, learning and development manager, the difference was 15%, earning a mean annual salary of  £39,100 compared to a mean annual salary of £46,100 for men. 

And for women respondents with the job title, head of learning and development, the difference was 19%, earning a mean annual salary of £49,950 compared to a mean annual salary of  £61,600 for men.

To highlight the scale of work that L&D in the UK has ahead in addressing the gender pay gap, it’s important to compare our progress with the rest of the country. 

While some of the UK’s biggest employers still have gender pay gaps over 10% with an average mean difference in hourly pay of 13.6% across all businesses that have reported on their pay gaps, the data suggests that L&D has a wider gap than the national average. 

So, how do these figures compare with the US?

The UK and the US, compared

According to 2019 data from the US Department of Labor, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020 and 2021, women were also earning less than men in the learning and development sector.

For women with the job title, training and development specialist, the difference was 18% in 2021, earning a median weekly salary of $1,195 compared to the median weekly salary of $1,464 for men. 

While for women with the job title, human resources assistant, the difference was 16% in 2019, earning a median annual salary of $43,628 compared to the median annual salary of $51,432 for men.

For women with the job title, training and development manager, the difference was 7% in 2019, earning a median annual salary of $74,867 compared to the median annual salary of $80,200 for men.

And for women with the job title, human resources manager, the difference was 9% in 2020, earning a median weekly salary of $1,599 compared to the median annual weekly salary of $1,748 for men. 

So, how does L&D in the UK compare to the US? The data suggests that the gender pay gap in the UK is wider than that of learning and development in the US, notably in the entry-level roles. But across all roles, the difference in pay in L&D in the UK sits at around double that in the US.

As shocking as that looks, there are many initiatives and policies that employers can implement and develop in both countries and around the world to level the playing field.

How can employers level the playing field?

The good news is there is a great deal that organizations can do to close the gender pay gap and strive for more inclusive, diverse, and equal workplaces. 

Here are just a few methods to leveling the playing field:

  • Stick to defined salary ranges. Employers should ensure their salary ranges are not guidelines that can fall apart–they should be law. For example, at 360Learning we assign salaries based on a mathematical model, and we don’t authorize ourselves to deviate from that. This means our salary levels aren’t affected by biases, such as the fact that 60% of women say they never negotiate their salaries.
  • Bin salary histories. Asking for salary history during candidate interviews turns salary negotiations into a zero-sum game which not only gives the organization all the power but also bakes in inequality because it offers a salary based on perceived worth and negotiating skills–not on skills and experience. Women are more likely to be on a lower salary and so this practice immediately disadvantages them.
  • Prove your commitment. Organizations should show women that they’re committed to inclusion and diversity. There are many ways to heighten awareness of inclusion and diversity in the workplace. See how we launched a learning campaign to celebrate Women’s History Month as part of our initiatives already in the works to support women at our company, or check out our on-demand webinar with Lifelabs Learning on building a holistic DEI program
  • Encourage men to take parental leave. Research shows that paternity leave supports gender equality and that men want to spend time with their new babies. Organizations should actively promote shared parental leave policies which work to reduce the gender pay gap.
  • Develop clear career pathways for everyone. Be sure to have the correct support systems in place to help employees achieve their milestones.
  • Promote a continuous learning culture. Embrace the learning organization model by encouraging continuous learning in the workplace and ensure you have the right tools in place to facilitate knowledge consumption over time. This will help both men and women increase their performance, drive their fulfillment, and progress in their careers.

The reality is that gender pay gaps exist everywhere–and L&D is no exception. Here, we’ve shed light on these and given employers guidance on how to level the playing field. For more advice and resources on making the biggest possible learning impact, and getting your fair share, check out our 2022 UK Learning and Development Salary Benchmark report (You can find the US version here).