Closing the pay gap


Economic development

Occupational segregation, one of the main causes of the gender pay gap, is a drag on economic growth. Equalising women's levels of employment to men's would more than £17bn to Scotland's economy.

Economic development agencies have a key role in influencing employers to consider the benefits of gender equality in the workplace. Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise are key partners of the Close the Gap initiative.

Scotland's Economic Strategy states:

'Maximising economic opportunities for women to participate fully in the economy, and recognising the wider social role they provide, is key to improving economic performance and tackling inequality.'

The strategy commits to addressing women's inequality in employment outcomes, including a focus on promoting the fair work agenda, and encouraging employers to mitigate the gendered barriers which prevent sustained economic growth such as occupational segregation.


The headline gender pay gap is an indicator of the systemic inequality that women experience in the labour market, and society more generally.

To support action on tackling the causes of women's inequality at work, policy development should consider how women and men participate in the labour market, including pre-labour market areas such as eduation and skills acquisition, and how this impacts on their labour market experience and outcomes.

Gender-blind policy development that does not consider the different experiences of groups of employees or service users will entrench inequalities.

Policymakers can influence action on women's labour market inequality by supporting the gathering and dissemination of gender disaggregated information. Gender disaggregated statistics are necessary for policymakers, employers and organisations to challenge gender inequality.

The cross-cutting and complex issues relating to the nature of women and men's access to education, training and labour market participation can only be understood if the information provided is disaggregated by gender, otherwise new policies and practices will continue to perpetuate gender inequality and widen the pay gap.

Visit our resources section for our latest research, analysis and guidance.

The Scottish Government has published an Equality Evidence Finder where those working in policy and research can find relevant data sources for each protected characteristic, including gender.


There are a range of business benefits for employers who take action to close the pay gap including higher rentention, reduced costs, improved morale and employee engagement, higher levels of innovation and productivity, effective skills utilisation, and lower legal risk of a costly tribunal claim.

Employers can undertake an equal pay review (audit) in the first instance, which is the best way to ensure that pay systems are fair and transparent. Employers can also consider reviewing flexible (family friendly) work practices to help retain and attract female talent to their business.

Our free, online self-assessment tool Think Business, Think Equality enables employers to assess their employment practice. It also provides a tailored action plan which supports you to identify the small changes that will make a big difference to your business.

For more information visit our employer section and resources section.

Alternatively you can contact us confidentially to discuss how we can support you.


Unions have been at the forefront of campaigning for equal pay for their members and it is important that this issue is reflected in workplace bargaining strategies.

To advance equality for women members, workplace reps should consider the three main causes of the pay gap: occupational segregation; lack of flexible working for members with caring responsibilities (the majority of whom are women); and discrimination within pay and grading systems, where many women are being paid less for work that is the same or similar, or of the equal value. The most effective way for employers to uncover discrimination is to carry out and equal pay review (audit).

For unions organising in the public sector, the public sector equality duty requires public bodies to take a proactive and organised approach to tackling systemic discrimination and aims to mainstream equality into public bodies in practical ways. This includes reporting on a headline pay gap, and on occupational segregation.

Public bodies are required to involve people who share a protected characteristic, and those who represent them, such as trade unions. Unions therefore have a role to support listed public authority employers to meet the requirements of the general duty and the specific duties.

Further information for unions can be found in the union rep section.

Related publications

CTG Working Paper 16: StatisticsCTG Working Paper 16: Statistics This paper is an updated version of Working Paper 14 Statistics published in 2015.

Gender Equality Pays: The economic case for addressing women's labour market inequalityGender Equality Pays: The economic case for addressing women's labour market inequality This paper presents research into the link between gender equality and economic benefit.

Response to the UK Government consultation on closing the gender pay gapResponse to the UK Government consultation on closing the gender pay gap Close the Gap's response to the UK Government consultation on requiring large private and voluntary sector organisations in the UK publish their gender pay gap.

Submission to the UK Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into the pay gapSubmission to the UK Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into the pay gap Close the Gap's written evidence to the UK Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into the gender pay gap for women aged over 40 years.

Supplementary evidence to Women & Equalities Committee inquiry into the pay gapSupplementary evidence to Women & Equalities Committee inquiry into the pay gap This supplementary written evidence to the UK Women & Equalities Committee inquiry into the gender pay gap for women aged over 40 years focuses on recommendations for key stakeholders.