Skift Take

Sadly, that women get paid less than men doesn't come as a surprise but it is still shocking to see such a huge disparity. With the figures now out in the open in the UK, companies have a responsibility to see that the gap is closed as quickly as possible. We'd also like to see more diversity among the leadership teams.

Ryanair pays women in its UK operation on average 72 percent less than men, putting the carrier at the bottom of Skift’s travel gender pay table.

The Irish airline might be the worst performer, but of the 21 companies we looked at, none paid men and women at the same median hourly rate.

The UK government is forcing companies with a workforce of 250 or more to disclose details of how they pay men and women. The headline figures look at the mean and median average hourly pay.

And while the figures are a useful indicator of the shape of each company’s workforce, they do not tell the full story.

The companies included in the below tables are a mix of domestic companies and international entities with a significant UK presence.

The figures do not mean, for instance, that men and women are getting paid different amounts for the same job (although this might indeed be happening). What they do show is that certain industries — or jobs within those industries — are still dominated by one particular gender.

In the airline industry, for example, around 97 percent of pilots are men, while flight attendants tend to be women. That’s probably why the “worst” offenders in travel tend to be airlines.

Conversely, in TUI Group’s UK retail stores, 93 percent of the 4,585 employees are female (but the median rate of female hourly pay is still 3 percent lower).

Company Percentage difference between women’s lower median hourly wage than men’s
Ryanair 71.8
Jet2 49.7
TUI Airways 47.3
Thomas Cook Airlines 45.8
EasyJet 45.5
Carnival 38.4
InterContinental Hotels Group* 35.7
Flybe* 35.4
Hogg Robinson 31
Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays* 28.4
On the Beach 28.3
Travelport 27.9
Skyscanner 26.4
Expedia 18.6
Amadeus 13.3
British Airways 10
Whitbread 6.6
Saga Group* 5.7
Thomas Cook Retail 5.4
TUI Retail 3
Merlin Entertainments* 2.6

*Combined total across multiple operating entities

Ryanair said that the discrepancy was down to the “relatively low numbers of female pilots in the aviation industry” and the fact that the company’s “management and administration are based largely in Ireland, so the vast majority of our UK-based colleagues are pilots or cabin crew” 

Alongside the gap in hourly pay, it is depressing to see such a low number of women in the highest-paid positions across the industry, something we’ve covered before.

Of the companies we looked at, only Thomas Cook and TUI’s retail operations had a greater percentage of women in their highest paid quartile. And this is likely because the staff are overwhelmingly female and the parent company’s executives are not included.

Company Percentage of women in top pay quartile
Ryanair 3
TUI Airways 5
Jet2 7.2
EasyJet 10.7
Flybe 11.5
Amadeus 16
Skyscanner 17
Thomas Cook Airlines 17.6
Virgin Atlantic 24
On The Beach 24.5
Expedia 28.4
Carnival 30.3
Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays* 32
Travelport 32.7
British Airways 34
InterContinental Hotels Group* 37
Hogg Robinson 42
Merlin Entertainments* 42.3
Saga Group* 43.5
Whitbread 42.7
Thomas Cook Retail 88
TUI Retail 90

*Combined total across multiple operating entities

Airlines — where men dominate the highest-paid positions — are the worst performers. If the figures tell us one thing, it’s that airlines need to do a better job at attracting and training female pilots. In this field, EasyJet — through its Amy Johnson initiative — is making commendable steps. Ryanair also said it had seen an increase in the number of female pilots applying to join the airline, which it called a “welcome trend”.

Removing Barriers

UK companies paid women 9.7 percent less per hour than men on average. Against this stat, the travel companies we looked at did not perform well with 16 having a worse average.

But this does not tell the full story. Travel has a huge diversity problem (not just with gender), women do not occupy enough senior roles and there are few female CEOs. It’s a big problem and in a sense it doesn’t matter that the stats produced are imperfect.

“On the face of it, it would appear that there is inequality in pay for the travel sector, particularly when you see some are quoting up to a 72 percent difference,” said Sarah Clayton-Turner, chair of the Association of Women Travel Executives, a membership organization based in the UK. 

“However, there are many questions as to whether they are really comparing apples with apples, and when you start to dig down into the stats, the number of women in senior positions is much lower than men and so of course would have an effect on the gender pay gap figures.

“This is an issue in itself, and so by forcing companies to reveal their pay gaps, it does then mean that more companies will be adding this to their agenda as a whole, become more transparent and hopefully will start to look at barriers for women’s progression in the workplace so we’re delighted that this has come into effect and companies are now much more aware of the issue.”

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Tags: gender, pay, travel, uk

Photo credit: London commuters. The UK government has forced companies to reveal their gender pay gap. SarahTz / Flickr