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Gender pay gap: NPS reveals 31 per cent disparity

NPS's competition-winning £350,000 Passivhaus holiday home
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Norwich-based firm NPS has published the largest gender pay gap so far for an architecture practice

The AJ100 firm, which also offers estates management, consultancy and surveying services, reported that women’s hourly pay was 31 per cent lower than men’s based on the median of all its staff salaries.

The mean gap at the NPS Group, which employs nearly 1,000 people, was 26.6 per cent.

Men accounted for 78.3 per cent of the top quartile of NPS’s payroll on 5 April 2017, with women making up 71.4 per cent of the lower quartile.

Women’s bonus pay was 27.3 per cent lower than men’s, based on the median result, and 52.2 per cent lower by mean. A higher proportion of men received bonuses than women.

According to the AJ100, NPS had 59 UK architects in 2017, making it the 39th biggest practice in the country. In 2014 the firm won a Sunday Times-backed contest, run in partnership with the AJ, to design a £350,000 Passivhaus waterside holiday home (pictured).

The firm said in a statement: ‘The NPS business is traditionally male-dominated in line with similar businesses in the construction industry. There is significant work underway to reduce this gap, and focus is on trying to attract and retain more female staff.

’Graduate recruitment, which will provide future senior staff, is beginning to attract more female candidates and our mentoring and coaching programmes should ensure we retain this talent. This work will remain in progress for some time.’

Meanwhile, fellow AJ100 practice Sheppard Robson has also revealed its gender pay gap. The median pay for women on its staff, which is roughly a third female, is 10.9 per cent less than that for men.

The mean of its women’s pay was 11 per cent lower than for men.

The top quartile of the practice’s payroll was almost two-thirds men, with slightly more women than men in the lower quartile.

While 46.3 per cent of men at Sheppard Robson received bonuses, just 39.7 per cent of women did. Overall women’s bonus pay was lower than men’s, both median and mean.

In a statement released with the figures, Sheppard Robson partner Andrew German said: ‘Although our results are significantly better than the national average and a number of our peers, we still feel uncomfortable with this industry-wide disparity.

‘[We] have been collaborating closely with other leading architectural practices on how we can collectively deliver change – we hope to report back on this shortly.’

Under legislation enacted last year, businesses in England, Scotland or Wales employing more than 250 people must report their gender pay gap by 4 April 2018.

Reporting both median and mean measurements can shed light on the root causes of the pay gap. The median figure is often taken as the more accurate measure, as the mean can be skewed by the distribution of pay among employees. A larger mean pay gap suggests that a company’s top salaried roles are occupied by more men than women.

Median pay gaps revealed so far include Stride Treglown’s 28.7 per cent, Aecom’s 21.9 per cent and Pick Everard’s 24.3 per cent.

Having a gender pay gap is not illegal, although the principle of equal pay has been enshrined in law since 1970. It is unlawful to pay people unequally because they are male or female. However, a company that pays men and women of equal standing the same wage may still have a gender pay gap if its senior, well-paid roles are mostly occupied by men.

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