May 23, 2019

Looking behind the gender pay gap data

Nicky Smith

In 2019 we published our first UK Gender Pay Gap report. The UK Government has specified how this data should be reported for all companies with more than 250 employees with the gender pay gap being calculated across all jobs and all levels within an organisation. 

In this article, I share an overview of the specific data we are required to publish and some insight into our UK 2019 report.

The gender pay gap

Our UK workforce is predominantly female (55%) but, as with many other companies, our male population is under-represented at lower levels and our female population is under-represented at senior levels.

This under-representation of females in the top quarter, as you can see below, is the main explanation for our current gender pay gap. The more balanced the representation of females at senior levels, the smaller the gender pay gap. However, whilst women occupy 35% of the top quarter at Adaptimmune, it’s important to note that, at our leadership level (Vice President level and above), we have an equal split between male and female leaders.

The pay and bonus gap

In addition to the above, we are required to publish two further pieces of data: the hourly pay gap (normally used when talking about the gender pay gap) and the bonus pay gap:

The term ‘mean’ represents the comparable average hourly earnings by gender. The term ‘median’ represents the comparison of the middle number in a sorted list arranged in value order from lowest to highest for each gender.

Starting with our hourly pay gap, both our median and mean figures are strongly influenced by our under-representation of females, particularly at our managerial and director levels, in the Company. The reason our median figure of 18.21% is higher is because, when making the median calculation, which requires us to put all employees for each gender in a list arranged in value order from lowest to highest, females represent all roles currently worked on a part-time basis, thus driving the median point for female employees down.

Now let’s look at our bonus pay gap where we have a median figure of -14% but a mean figure of +11%. Everyone at Adaptimmune is eligible for our global bonus scheme, regardless of level, which is something we are very proud of. As with our hourly pay gap, our under-representation of females in more senior roles is driving our current 14% gap. However, it is the higher proportion of females at our leadership level which drives the mean calculation, resulting in an 11% higher payment than male employees.

A few facts about gender pay reporting

The gender pay reporting system in the UK is still new; most companies having only previously reported data in 2017.  It is sometimes misunderstood and often confused with equal pay which is very different.  

  • Equal pay relates to men and women receiving equal pay for equal work, i.e. the same job.
  • Gender pay is measuring any disparity between the average earnings of males and females. It is not about equal work but instead relates to different factors such as the representation of females in part time working or returning from family leave in lower level roles.  Even after ensuring males and females receive equal pay for equal work, you can still have a gender pay gap.

Valuable tool for a complex set of factors

There is no doubt gender pay analysis is a valuable and important exercise, but it’s also important to recognise that gender pay data only reflects a moment in time. For our recent UK report, this is data gathered from April 2018.  For some companies who have reported data for two years running, we have seen their gender pay gap widen in 2018, despite putting actions in place to close the gap.  Pay gaps can increase or decrease year on year. For instance, in small companies the departure of a single female leader can significantly increase their gender pay gap by 5%.

So why, despite action being taken, can the gender pay gap increase in the short term? The primary reason is that gender pay can be subject to short-term fluctuations as illustrated by the single female leader example above. In reality, gender pay differences, and the issues contributing to this, some of which are mentioned above, require longer term thinking. Most companies, including Adaptimmune, are putting action plans in place to have a positive and sustainable longer-term impact rather than any short-term gain. Like many of our fellow companies this will be a long-term journey.

Is gender a factor at Adaptimmune?

No, from the company’s earliest origins we have created and are committed to a diverse and inclusive working environment, rewarding all our employees based on their performance and contribution, regardless of gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability or any other factor. A diverse workforce enables us to build first class teams of individuals who contribute to our corporate goals, whilst developing their careers at the same time. This approach is crucial to helping us remain at the forefront of immunotherapy research. 

Our approach has always been to attract talented individuals to join us, selecting the best candidates irrespective of any factor mentioned above, including gender, and rewarding all employees regardless of level in the organization by annual benchmarking for competitive base salaries but also including health and insurance plans, a bonus scheme and share options. Our Global Compensation Framework is designed to reward performance and contribution, regardless of gender. 

How do we compare?

Below is a summary of how we compare with both the national and sector specific statistics.

At present, we are in a similar position to others in our sector (Professional, Scientific and Technical Industry). However, unlike many of our UK comparators who have been tracking their gender pay gap for two years due to their size, we haven’t had an opportunity yet to see how any steps we take may affect our current gap both in the short and long term. In April 2020, we will publish our data for 2019 but I am pleased to confirm, based on current analysis, we are expecting our median pay gap to decrease.

What’s our plan for the future?

We have started pulling together an action plan to address our gender pay gap for the following years. What’s important to me is how we respond to the data submitted, understanding any specific issues we have and creating our plan to address them whilst also continuing to ensure we have an approach of rewarding employees based on performance and contribution, regardless of gender.

We will continue to nurture all talent here at Adaptimmune, recognising everyone for their skills, performance and contribution to our company goals. As we grow as a Company, we will continue to support all female talent across all levels providing career development opportunities particularly for managerial positions. 

Over the last few years, we’ve been pleased to introduce changes and initiatives in support of our female employees including enhancing our family leave provisions to support those returning to work, alongside providing flexible working arrangements. In the UK, our in-house management development programme and in the US, our training sessions provide development for individuals looking to move into more senior management roles and we will continue to explore other development initiatives for the future.

As Head of HR at Adaptimmune, I also feel, whilst tackling our gender pay gap, it’s important to ensure our culture of recognising everyone’s skill, experience and contribution, regardless of gender is maintained.

Gender pay is a hot topic here in the UK. I agree it’s an important issue and at Adaptimmune we are committed to continuing to address this.