Banks commitment to closing the Gender Pay Gap is a real test of progress of cultural change in the main retail banks – says FSU

21 December 2022

A collective approach to dealing with the Gender Pay Gap in the Finance sector is urgently required – says FSU

John O’Connell, General Secretary of the Financial Services Union (FSU) has called for a collective and transparent approach to be adopted across the retail banking sector to deal with what he termed the “unacceptably high” Gender Pay Gap reported across the sector.

The Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021 requires all companies with over 250 employees to disclose their gender pay gap across a range of metrics. Each of the four main retail Banks in Ireland have now reported their findings with the mean Gender Pay Gap averaging 20.55%% across the four main banks and the median averaging 17.51% The reported GPG from each bank is:

BankMedian GPGMean GPG
Bank of Ireland17.1%20.5%
Ulster Bank28%25.8%

Commenting on the publications of the reports John OConnell, General Secretary of the FSU said:

“The FSU welcomed the legislation requiring the retail banks and others to report their Gender Pay Gap. It is important that this data is made available, and employers have a real understanding of the problems and a determination to work to a zero balance. How banks prioritise their gender pay gap will give them the opportunity to demonstrate they are responsive to calls for cultural change in how they behave.

The numbers reported across all the retail banks are very worrying and deserving of urgent attention. The gender pay gap can best be resolved through a willingness of employers to engage with Unions and agree action plans that puts this issue as a core objective of their business plan. This is not currently the position, and I would call on each Bank to engage constructively with the FSU on agreeing their individual action plans that can be implemented across all areas of the Bank. This is a real opportunity for the retail banks to show the culture in the banking sector is changing and is becoming more inclusive and transparent.

The FSU published a report on closing gender pay last year which included five demands.

  • Make pay ranges public for workers to see and end pay secrecy
  • Make employers agree annual reduction targets through actions agreed with Trade Unions.
  • Encourage part-time and flexible working arrangement for staff at all levels of the Company
  • Audit pay increase and performance ratings each year for fairness and equality
  • Ensure that collective bargaining is a right of all workers

The FSU, together with ICTU and other Unions met recently with Minister O’Gorman on pay transparency and we are aware of the imminent agreement of an EU directive on the issue. As a sign of Government commitment to addressing the GPG this directive should be transposed into Irish law at the earliest opportunity.

We know that the vast majority of people in part time or working reduced hours are women. Not providing for flexible working arrangements at all levels in a company is a serious hindrance and block on many women’s careers, giving men an unfair advantage and contributing to the gender pay gap. Flexible working arrangements need to be provided and encouraged for all genders and at all levels in the company.

The FSU are members of the Women in Finance industry group which has an important role in addressing equality and gender pay within the sector. It has an ambitious program of work that if adopted by the sector can begin to resolve the many issues that exist within the finance industry that give rise to gender pay inequality.

The publication of the data is an important start in understanding the issue. It is now incumbent on all to act on the data and work together to resolve this key issue and thereby making the finance industry an attractive place to work for all.”