Balfour Beatty’s gender pay gap widens

The UK’s biggest building contractor, Balfour Beatty, has revealed his gender pay gap has widened over the past 12 months.

Balfour’s gender pay gap now stands at 21%, up from 18% in 2020. This means that for every £1 male employees earn, female employees earn £79.

The company attributed the change to a return to “more usual operating conditions”.

A report compiled by Balfour Beatty adds: “The resumption of various travel and subsistence allowances […] have a greater impact on men’s income than on women’s.

Building News understands that some Balfour Beatty employees receive allowances as part of their regular compensation, for example when working on site, but that events such as conferences would instead be covered by expenses.

An increase in the number of women joining the company in junior positions is likely another reason why the pay gap has widened.

The report reveals that the proportion of low-paid workers who are women rose from 29% to 33%. Simultaneously, the percentage of women among the highest earners in the company fell from 14% to 13%.

Talk to NC earlier this month, Anthony Horrigan, chief executive of diversity consultancy Spktral, pointed out that a company actively trying to recruit more women through apprenticeships or graduate programs could actually see its pay gap will worsen as these women will be early in their careers and in relatively low-paying roles.

The Balfour report adds that if the company increases the number of women working in the company, the number in its lower pay quartiles would increase first as more women join its apprenticeship and graduate programs.

“Over time, they will progress through the company and as they progress, their salaries will increase, which will help reduce our gender pay gap,” the report adds.

Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn said he was pleased that the company’s efforts to improve the diversity of its employees were “starting to bear fruit”. In 2018, female employees were paid on average 30% less than men, compared to 21% in 2021.

“While the pace of change is never as rapid as we would like, we are making steady and tangible progress in closing our gender pay gap,” he added.

Companies with more than 250 employees have been required to report their gender pay gap annually since April 2017. Any company that does not report its pay gap on time faces a court order or an unlimited fine of from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. .

Small businesses can voluntarily report their gender pay gap.

NC reviewed the sector’s progress in closing the gender pay gap earlier this month. But a senior project manager at consultancy Gleeds, who is also chairman of the Women in Property networking group, said there was “still a lot of work to do” to tackle pay inequality.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8 NC has partnered with its sister publication, New Civil Engineer, defend the role of women in construction and engineering. Organizations interested in making the Inspiring Women in Construction Pledge, which is committed to working towards a more inclusive industry, can register here.

Alice F. Ponder