UK’s gender pay gap widens: Should you buy these 2 FTSE 250 stocks?

By - Suhita Poddar


  • The Office for National Statistics found the gender pay gap increased while earnings rose in 2021 due to the pandemic
  • The pay gap between men and women rose to 7.9 per cent in April 2021, up from 7 per cent in April 2020.

The gender pay gap widened in the UK over the past year, as earnings rebounded in 2021 due to the pandemic, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

As per ONS data, the median weekly pay of full-time employees stood at £611 in April, up by 4.3 per cent from April 2020. Those who were most impacted during the pandemic saw an increase in their earnings which included younger people, men and lowest-paid workers.

Additionally, the pay gap between men and women rose to 7.9 per cent in April, up from 7 per cent in April 2020, as per ONS. This rise was attributed to the disruption caused by the onset of the pandemic.

However, there is a positive as well, the gender pay gap has been on an overall downward trend over the long term, as the full-time employees pay gap recorded in 1997 was at 17.4 per cent.

A recent company median pay gap analysis by the BBC based on data found that the sectors with the highest median pay gap favouring men were in education having a gap of 26 per cent, finance and insurance with a gap of 24 per cent, construction with 24 per cent and others.

Let us take a look at 2 FTSE 250 index listed stocks, one each topping the highest percentage points increase in gender pay gap favouring men and women respectively since 2019 to 2020:

  1. J D Wetherspoon (LON: JDW)

J D Wetherspoon is a UK based pub company. The company had witnessed the highest gender pay gap percentage point increase favouring men at 22.6 per cent, according to BBC’s analysis of the gender pay service data.

The company has been facing a major staff shortage due to the pandemic. It had recently reported a loss before tax of £195 million in FY 2021.

(Image source: Refinitiv)

Wetherspoon’s shares closed at GBX 987.00 on 26 October. The company’s market cap stands at £1,270.55 million, and its one-year return is at 4.50 per cent as of Tuesday.

  1. Travis Perkins PLC (LON: TPK)

Travis Perkins, the largest supplier of building materials in the UK, topped the list among publicly listed companies with a minus 7.6 percentage point change in gender pay gap favouring women, between the period 2019 to 2020.

(Notably, the private company, Jaguar Land Rover had topped the gender pay gap list favouring women by minus 12.4 percentage point change)

Travis Perkins expects its adjusted operating profit to be no less than £310 million in FY 2021, up by 37 per cent from £227 million in FY 2020, according to its recent investor day meeting.

It had earlier estimated it FY 2021 adjusted operating profit would be at around £300 million. The hike in its guidance comes as the company believes it is well-positioned for the future.

(Image source: Refinitiv)

Travis Perkins’ shares closed at GBX 1,576.50 on 26 October. The company’s market cap stands at £3,527.71 million, and its one-year return is at 56,79 per cent as of Tuesday.

Bottom Line

Industry experts believe that just publishing a gender pay report will not be sufficient to cause fast enough change in narrowing the pay gap.

According to the national trade union in England and Wales, Trade Union Congress’ general secretary Frances O’Grady, companies should be legally required to identify how they intend to close the gender pay gaps within the organisation.