Regulus Partners: The gender pay gap performance of the gambling sector

With UK firms publishing their official gender pay gap statistics, it meant that for the first time the true extent of wage inequality in the UK was revealed.

Whilst it’s important to note that gender pay gap statistics aren’t the only representation of diversity within any industry, they do go someway to giving an assessment of levels of gender discrimination that take place.

With all listed UK betting operators publishing their results, SBC spoke to industry enterprise consultancy Regulus Partners, analysing the performance of the gambling sector when it comes to the gender pay gap.

Regulus Partners undertook research, aiming to utilise statistics from 20 gambling and related institutions to breakdown how the sector performed against the national average.

The group revealed that from its research: “There are two key takeaways and two important caveats, in terms of takeaways, the two important points are that this isn’t a subject necessarily to beat up the sector about, but equally that doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue: not being egregious isn’t the same as being good, but there has been a tendency to over-criticise, over-play and over-spin and its important that we see things for what they are, not what suits our agenda (whatever that might be).

“The caveats are that looking at gender pay gaps in the UK is rather a blunt instrument: it doesn’t capture international groups, it doesn’t capture non-gender questions and even the pay element isn’t very nuanced, but many of the issues are much softer and more complex – causes, not symptoms. Second, even establishing something as basic as an average is complicated, the mean of means or the median of medians are tougher benchmarks but arguably less relevant, we use the adjusted ONS data for companies of over 250 employees as the key benchmark – there are lies, damned lies and statistics and its important we are talking about inclusivity and opportunity for real people in real life, not box ticking.”

In its research Regulus reported that 60% of companies it analysed outperformed the mean national average pay gap; 100% outperformed the median and 90% outperformed the skew toward management vs. wider employment. However the group was keen to acknowledge that there isn’t yet enough data to deem this as a damming affirmation of the industry’s positive stance when it comes to the gender pay gap.

“It shows the industry isn’t egregious, but we don’t have enough data to measure progress and we would be cautious about using this measure alone as a barometer of anything other than the important but relatively narrow view it gives: a measure of the pay gap by gender for UK companies. We need deeper, broader and more qualitative measures to get anywhere close to assessing inclusivity. We should also be aware that the ‘right’ direction will not be the same for all companies at all times – if we get prescriptive, we will almost certainly do more harm than good.”

Regulus went onto detail how the issue of the gender pay gap can be widened to be a more impactful one: “The gender pay gap is one issue affecting one group, albeit a large one. It is also typically symptomatic or outcome driven rather than causal. The bigger question is why is this the case – in some instances there might be structural and even desired reasons (eg, access to part-time work), in many there will be significant barriers which the gambling industry cannot be expected to tackle alone (eg, paternity vs. maternity leave and allowances).

“Also, inclusivity must reach much further than sex if it is to have the desired effect of improving opportunity for talent wherever it is found and ensuring a sustainable connection to and understanding of customers and stakeholders. That might sound obvious, but seeking the promotion of middle class women to clerical and senior management support roles (eg, HR, Legal, Finance etc) would be a great boon to closing the pay gap and might even diversify the talent pool, but it smacks of an easy fix (with plenty of supporters) and is hardly a victory for inclusivity – and that is what we should be striving toward, for both intrinsic and extrinsic reasons.”

Furthermore, areas of the industry that are predominantly female orientated had a contrasting influence on the data to what many would have believed: “Businesses serve lots of women, or even have lots of service level staff actually over-index in lower quartile cohorts, but that doesn’t mean these companies over-index in senior management or middle management roles. It is these areas where opportunities are deficient and the presence of lots of women among the ‘workforce’ of some companies arguably highlights a progression problem rather than flatters the data.”

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