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Gender Pay Gap Fuelled by a Lack of Salary Transparency: Glassdoor UK survey 2021

Posted by Jill Cotton

Career Trends Expert

Last Updated November 18, 2021

November 18th marks Equal Pay Day in the UK. Led by the Fawcett Society, this is the day where women effectively stop earning (for the remainder of the calendar year) relative to men because of the gender pay gap.

A new survey* of 2,000 UK employees by Glassdoor has found that women are being unfairly disadvantaged by a lack of salary transparency which in turn is perpetuating the gender pay gap. Latest figures from the ONS reveal that the UK’s gender pay gap was at 7.9% in April 2021, continuing the downward trend from 9.0% in April 2019.

Key Findings

According to Glassdoor findings, employees feel unable to discuss their pay in the workplace:

  • Women are 26% less likely than men to ask for a salary increase in the next year 
  • Just 1 in 4 UK workers strongly agree their employer is transparent about pay
  • 1 in 2 believe their workplace needs to do more to close the gender pay gap
  • Half of women admit they lack the confidence to ask for a pay rise

Does Salary Transparency Help Pay Equality?

With just one in four employees strongly agreeing that their company is transparent around pay, it is perhaps unsurprising that over half (54 percent) of UK workers admit that they are apprehensive about discussing salary with their boss.

It is this lack of conversation around pay that is contributing to inequality for women in the workplace: 67 percent of female workers did not ask for a pay rise in 2020, 30 percent more than men. In the last year just one-third (35 percent) of those working in the female-dominated industries of education, healthcare, and hospitality asked for a wage increase compared to 62 percent of those working in the traditionally male-dominated world of finance and 56 percent in tech.

Women are also 26 percent less likely than their male counterparts to ask for more money in the next 12 months, with the survey finding just 37 percent of women plan to ask for a pay rise next year. 

Over half (56 percent) of women admit they lack the confidence to ask for a pay rise. As a result, just 33 percent of female workers negotiated the salary of their last job offer (compared to 45 percent of men). Two in five (43 percent) women revealed that they simply accepted the salary that was offered to them (compared to 35 percent of men).  

Nearly three in four of all employees (73 percent) got the wage increase they asked for last year, indicating that women will continue to miss vital opportunities to increase their earning potential.

How Can Companies Narrow the Gender Pay Gap?

According to the Glassdoor survey, half of women (50 percent) feel unfairly paid, compared to just 44 percent of men, and just 50 percent feel pay and promotions are handled fairly in their company.

One in two (51 percent) UK workers feel their employers can and should be doing more to close the gender pay gap. With seven in 10 (70 percent) of workers believing pay transparency is good for employee satisfaction, companies should consider their own salary policies.

The proven benefits of workplace transparency include higher levels of employee engagement, stronger workplace culture and values and increased communication. This in turn leads to greater productivity.

Career experts at Glassdoor advise that there are three areas in which companies can help to close the gender pay gap:

  • Technology: Salary calculator tools help employees know their worth and for employers to effectively benchmark.
  • Greater salary transparency: making it easier to identify disparities and open conversations around pay.
  • Policies and Programmes: Ensuring all employees know how to have open conversations around salary.

Glassdoor has published an annual equity review of its employee compensation since 2016. For the sixth consecutive year we found no adjusted pay gap by gender or race/ethnicity at Glassdoor in 2021.

What is The Gender Pay Gap?

The gender pay gap is the difference between the average pay of men and women across a workforce.

Employers in the UK with a headcount of more than 250 must comply with regulations on gender pay reporting and these reports are searchable via the Government website.

The ONS provides a nationwide picture on the gender pay gap on an annual basis.

Tips For Asking For a Raise

With one in two  women admitting they lack the confidence to ask for a pay rise, Glassdoor career experts offer their advice to starting these all important discussions:

Build your case

Research is essential to an effective pay conversation. Tools like Glassdoor’s Salary Estimates and Know Your Worth personalised salary calculator paired with data on the impact you’ve brought to your role will help you identify the right pay range for your needs and build a case when talking with an employer.


Remember that negotiating or asking for a pay raise is a discussion. Practice with friends and family to build confidence and practice what you want to say and how you’ll respond. Use a guide as helpful prompts you can lean on in your conversation.

Find your window of opportunity

Knowing when to ask is just as important as the discussion itself. Negotiating during a job offer is a common starting point. After a successful project or before an annual performance review are also opportune times to initiate a salary conversation.

And if you are looking for more advice, check out our do’s and don’ts of salary negotiation and see our full guide to negotiating your salary.


Workplaces that are transparent tend to be more successful. The survey demonstrates that  women in the UK are less confident when negotiating their salaries. Simple steps such as including salary bands on job adverts and encouraging a culture where pay can be talked about openly and honestly will help to stop the detrimental effect on female employees' ability to earn throughout their career.

Glassdoor annually publishes salary ranges for all roles across the company. The 2021 salary bands can be found here.

Survey Methodology

*This survey, undertaken by Censuswide on behalf of Glassdoor, surveyed 2,042 UK employees who work full time between 5th-9th November 2021.

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