Cancer Research UK ‘disappointed’ by widening gender pay gap

23 Feb 2022 News

The mean gender pay gap at Cancer Research UK (CRUK) increased by nearly five percentage points during the pandemic - something its CEO says is “disappointing”. 

This comes a year after CRUK launched its equality, diversity and inclusion strategy. 

Gender pay gaps are calculated in early April to measure the average difference between the amount men and women in the same organisations earn. Large organisations must file their figures with the government and publish them on their website. 

In April 2020, CRUK’s mean gender pay gap was 15% but this increased to 19.7% a year into the pandemic. Its median pay gap rose from 29.2% to 30.9%. 

These are the widest gaps reported by the charity since it began gathering the data. 

Senior women left during restructure

CRUK says that a number of factors contributed to this rise, including measures to adapt during the pandemic. 

A restructure “saw higher numbers of senior female staff leaving”, CRUK said. 

CRUK's annual report for the year ending March 2021 shows it made around 200 redundancies, fewer than it initially expected. Its income for the year was £582m, which was £74m less than the previous year. 

Michelle Mitchell, CEO of CRUK, said: “An indirect consequence of the pandemic, and our reduction in staff numbers outside of our retail arm, means that the retail part of the charity now makes up more than half of our organisation. As these roles are largely held by women, with lower average salaries in the retail sector, this has contributed to our wider pay gaps.

“We aren’t where we want to be, and it is disappointing that we have not made progress in closing our gender pay gap. We are committed to driving change in line with the actions set out in our EDI strategy and I’m confident that we have a solid plan in place to help us regain momentum in the years ahead.”

Ethnicity pay gap 

CRUK also publishes data on its ethnicity pay gap. 

In April 2021 the mean (average) ethnicity pay gap is -9.3%, meaning staff from an ethnic minority background are paid on average more than white employees. 

Not all staff disclose their ethnicity, so the data is based on the 88% who did. Of those 13% of these are from an ethnic minority.

According to the diversity strategy published last year, CRUK is aiming for 16% of its staff to come from an ethnic minority background by the end of 2023. 

Positive steps 

CRUK said that since the data was collected, it has recruited more women to senior roles and now includes salary bands on all external job adverts. 

The charity has also updated its flexible working policy in a bid to make it easier for women, working parents and carers to progress. 

Mitchell said: “We have a great deal of work to do to improve diversity at Cancer Research UK. We have implemented changes to our recruitment and selection process to address this, including the introduction of anonymous CVs, as well as increasing our data and reporting on applicant demographics.” 

She added that the leadership team has “made great strides in recent years to address the gender balance at the top, but we haven’t achieved the same progress with ethnicity in senior leadership roles.

“As a result, we’ve been setting targets and working to achieve balanced shortlists of candidates with a specific focus on gender and ethnicity.” 

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