Wednesday, 2 August 2017

National Church Institutions Gender Pay Gap Data

The Church of England has published this document: National Church Institutions Gender Pay Gap Data.

Some press coverage of this:

The Times (behind a paywall) Church of England reveals 40% gender pay gap

Telegraph Church of England reveals 41 per cent gender pay gap in central office

Christian Today Church of England HQ has worse gender pay gap than BBC

The Sun NEED A PRAY RISE Top Church of England offices reveal whopping 40 per cent pay gap – double the national average and FOUR TIMES the BBC

We haven’t seen any press release about this, but the daily emailed media report from Church House Westminster had this comment:

Figures show that the pay difference between men and women for nearly three-quarters of staff is less than one per cent, and for half of staff there is no gap in pay. However there are significant differences in the mean and median salaries overall.

A spokesperson is quoted saying: “The data shows where we have more work to do in reducing the difference in pay between men and women in more highly paid roles, and improving the ratio of men to women in the most senior and most junior roles.”

According to the Telegraph report, the spokesperson also said:

“We are taking steps to address these issues including reviewing our job evaluation and pay methodology and making changes to our recruitment strategy to attract a greater diversity of candidates.”

The key to understanding the “gap” lies in this table:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 2 August 2017 at 1:51pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

So have the papers misunderstood the way the statistics are presented? Doesn't it mean that there are more men than women in senior posts, not that men and women doing similar jobs are paid differently?

Posted by: Charles Read on Wednesday, 2 August 2017 at 3:15pm BST

"Figures show that the pay difference between men and women for nearly three-quarters of staff is less than one per cent, and for half of staff there is no gap in pay."

A very ingenious statistical the absence of any explanation it could mean that the average pay of the top 75% of women is the same as the bottom 75% of men. That is entirely consistent with a very large disparity overall. It's a piece of spin which would have been better left out.

If any part of Government put something out like this, the Statistics Authority would be down on them like a ton of bricks.

Posted by: A Statistician on Wednesday, 2 August 2017 at 3:55pm BST

Do these figures reflect the salary gap by gender for comparable jobs? If there are more men in senior positions because of past selection policies, then this is more likely to be a reflection of the church's past attitude to women rather than equality of pay. It will take time and a proactive approach to redress this imbalance rather than focussing on salaries.

Posted by: David on Wednesday, 2 August 2017 at 5:21pm BST

It's a bit misleading. The stats here are only for the National Church Institutions lay staff. Clergy pay is not included.

I also noted that 'bonuses for male investment staff are significantly larger on average, with men receiving £10,150 compared to women's average of £4,475.' Wouldn't it be nice to see clergy getting bonuses for preaching well, or handling tricky pastoral situations? As it is, our reward is in heaven. And maybe that's as well.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Wednesday, 2 August 2017 at 7:25pm BST

I was a scientist who used statistics rather than a statistician but it seems to me that, like the other information on gender and pay released by the BBC and others, the statistics don't really tell us what they were supposedly introduced to demonstrate: 1) are people paid the same for doing comparable jobs (allowing for pay progression in a job, etc) and 2) is there equality in employment at all levels in the organisation? There will be a historical bias in employment that will be working through the system in time, and some people will not be employed full time (presumably there is some correction to full time equivalent in the data). But the data as presented can't be pushed too far - they say what they say and no more.

Posted by: Mary Hancock on Wednesday, 2 August 2017 at 8:16pm BST

I'm looking forward to seeing the Telegraph publish it's own "gender pay gap" figures..

In the meantime at least we know that the 7000ish paid vicars are all on almost identical "stipends".... which is, of course, based on income needed to live reasonably, rather than recompense for responsibilities or expenses of ministry (which are refunded). However it might be interesting to explore why senior clergy, Deans and Bishops *need more to live reasonably*... in ministry and in retirement!?

Posted by: RevDave on Wednesday, 2 August 2017 at 8:39pm BST

This "pay gap" is an epic piece of goalpost moving: since far fewer organizations dare pay women less for equivalent work (an odious attack on natural justice rightly banned), it's rejigged to refer to an average for the sexes, an average that takes no account of legitimate reasons such as different career choices, working part time, etc.

I'll readily call the church out, and if it's discriminating on the basis of sex without even the fig-leaf of theology, I wish it a roasting. But I'll not assume its guilt without further evidence as to the reasons for the inequality.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 2 August 2017 at 9:40pm BST

I think it is almost certainly the case that the figures are indicative of a bias towards having men in more senior jobs. But the same is true of all other organisations which publish similar statistics. The use of the median for each gender means that the salaries paid at the very top ( the BBC) don't affect things. This is not about the fat cats but about the generality of employees.

James, Mary and others suggest that it will take time for the disparities to work through. The papers have noted that the ratio of medians for the Church of England is four times that of the BBC. So that genuinely suggests that (on this measure) the Church of England really is behind the curve.

To understand this better, look at the figures themselves. The median for men is £45K, and for women it is £32K. This is not about "fat cat" or very senior jobs, but is startling. Put another way, look at the table. It says that in the top quarter of jobs (by salary) there are twice as many men as women. Conversely in the "hewers of wood and drawers of water" bottom quarter, there are 3 women for every man. Something is very wrong here---these are not small biases but indicative of enormous effects, not easily explained away.

What is particularly disappointing to me is the wholly misleading press release that I referred to above. Instead of saying "we have a real problem here" the author of the media report starts by trying to obfuscate and spin the problem completely. They are obviously well qualified for the current vacancy for a Communications Director in the White House...

Posted by: A Statistician on Wednesday, 2 August 2017 at 11:05pm BST

A Statistician is quite right and grasps exactly how 'bad' these figures are -- IF you think equality is a Christian ideal (I do).

However, the leaders of the CofE have never claimed to support equality so far as I can remember. It would be better to be like the Catholics and openly eschew it altogether. At least that would be honest.

Those looking for a Christian denomination for whom equality is central should consider joining the Quakers - see their Statement of Faith

Posted by: Linda Woodhead on Thursday, 3 August 2017 at 9:31am BST

"Figures show that the pay difference between men and women for nearly three-quarters of staff is less than one per cent, and for half of staff there is no gap in pay."

This seems, in this case to mean that the lower paid 34% of men (67 out of 199) are paid on average the same as the lower paid 63% of women (159 out of 253).

The absurdity of this measure can be shown by considering an organisation with only two pay rates, high and low. If all the women are paid the low rate except the manageress, and all the men are paid the high rate except the tea boy; there would be no pay gap at all according to the Church's methodology.

As for "the data show there is work to be done to address these issues", well no they don't. They show up some pretty humungous discrepancies. These should be explained, and only then will they know whether anything is really amiss. They can then start looking for an extremely low-paid male statistician.

For me, the most striking thing is that practically all NCI staff are paid more than a vicar, and the majority are paid more than a bishop.

Posted by: T Pott on Thursday, 3 August 2017 at 10:02pm BST

Here's an example of another institution reporting its gap. Notice the difference in tone.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 August 2017 at 9:05am BST

And here is the figure for the Civil Service. I find it hard to think of any justification for the NCIs being material worse than the Civil Service.

"The gender pay gap for all employees, calculated as the difference between the median pay for males and females, decreased from 13.6% on 31 March 2016 to 12.7% on 31 March 2017. This measure depends on the pay of part-time employees being converted to full-time equivalent salaries. The gender pay gap for full-time employees decreased from 12.0% to 11.0%. There was a fall from 11.5% to 9.1% for part-time employees."

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 August 2017 at 10:19am BST

56% of NCI staff are female. Men are particularly under-represented at the lower levels. More than 70% of the lower paid half are female.

The most statistically significant reason for the high gender pay gap is the failure to recruit or retain men in lower paid roles. Is this direct discrimination? Is there an old girls network, or are female, or male, HR staff favouring women in recruitment? Or are too few men applying? Is regular church attendance a factor in recruitment? Are the men who do get recruited simply being promoted very rapidly; or leaving? Has there at any time been a policy of recruiting clergy wives?

There are numerous possibilities. I suspect the salaries on offer for the lower paid jobs are simply not competitive in the marketplace. Men may feel more pressured to maximise their earnings while women may feel more able to work for an institution they believe in even if they could earn a little more elsewhere.

Whatever the cause, the main factor in the high gap is not too few women at the top but too few men at the bottom.

Posted by: T Pott on Friday, 4 August 2017 at 1:27pm BST

Thanks, T, for the very clear explanation of the three quarters issue. I do hope that the Comms Department at Church House read, mark, learn and inwardly digest it.

But is it really the case that the only problem is the lack of men in junior roles? Taking on board Simon's point that the Civil Service is a good comparator, I note from that the proportion of women in the top grades of the civil service (Grades 7 and above, accounting for about 11% of the civil service as a whole) is around 45%.

It's hard to tell from published sources what the gender breakdown of Church of England staff is at various levels, other than the gender pay figures as produced, but the apparent disparity with the Civil Service is notable.

Posted by: A Statistician on Saturday, 5 August 2017 at 3:20pm BST

A, No I don't think the only problem is the lack of men in junior roles. There is a very strong preponderance of men in senior roles, and this is a very significant factor in the gender disparity. I merely meant to say that the preponderance of women in junior roles, being greater than the preponderance of men in senior roles, is the most significant factor. Most significant but far from only significant. Sorry if I did not make this clear,

And yes indeed, we cannot be sure from the available data that the men are actually in more senior/responsible/skilled roles but only that they are paid more.

Posted by: T Pott on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 11:34pm BST
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