Shocking new research has revealed Waverley borough has the highest average gender pay gap in the South East.

The study by ethical fashion company Beira showed Waverley’s average gender pay gap is 33.8 per cent, more than double the national average of 14.3 per cent.

It means women in Waverley are paid on average a third less than male counterparts.

Beria analysed data from the Office of National Statistics Gender pay gap in the UK: 2023 report.

This shows the gender pay gap across the South East has dropped from 20.1 per cent in 1997 to 12.9 per cent in 2023.

However, the gap in Waverley is a chasm compared to the regional figure, showing women’s earnings are on average 33.8 per cent less than men’s in the borough for full- and part-time jobs.

The gender pay gap refers to the disparity in earnings between men and women, often expressed as the difference in average or median income between the two genders.

Waverley Borough Council’s economic development manager, Catherine Knight, sought to explain the discrepancy, saying the figures were “interesting and disappointing”.

She said: “Firstly, the big difference is between earning by place of residence and play of work. 

“Lots of residents earn more commuting to London, Reading and Guildford and can now work from home more.

“The main employers in the borough are retail, education, healthcare and professional services. These jobs are predominantly carried out by women part time, due to child care, caring responsibilities and other reasons.

“Many people commute to do these roles, including the local council, from Hampshire and further as they cannot afford to live in Waverley or other areas in Surrey.

“With 91 per cent of businesses micro-sized and often the owners living in the area, there isn’t much on offer for high quality part time roles and for those who have caring roles and salaries locally do not support childcare costs. 

“For example, British Car Auctions did employ 450 accountants and high quality roles. However, they moved out of Farnham to Hook for example and I know women who worked there who had to leave due to the new commute.”

Dr Antoinette Fionda-Douglas, co-founder of Beira, which turns unused luxury fabrics into womenswear to reduce textile waste, said:  “It’s still shocking to see gender inequality in 2023.

“Female businesses and female roles are not valued enough by the broader society, which not only impedes the progress of individual women but also hinders collective advancement.  

“It’s disheartening to see the persistent undervaluation of the contributions that women make in various sectors, and this is something we’re trying to change here at Beira.”

By Michelle Monaghan

Top tips for narrowing the gender gap...

Dr Antoinette Fionda-Douglas, co-founder of ethical fashion company Beira has this advice for addressing the gender pay gap:

  1. Negotiate Salary Confidently: “Women often hesitate to negotiate their salaries, contributing to the gender pay gap. Confidently negotiating helps bridge the gap by ensuring women are paid based on their skills and experience.” 
  2. Promote Workplace Transparency: “When employees have access to information about salary ranges and pay structures, it reduces the likelihood of gender-based pay disparities and fosters a culture of fairness.” 
  3. Mentorship and networking: “Mentorship provides valuable guidance for career advancement, while networking opens doors to opportunities and helps break down gender-related barriers, ultimately contributing to closing the gender pay gap.”