Figures reveal difference in gender pay gaps at region’s manufacturing firms

Kettle Foods factory. The employer is among the Norfolk and Suffolk manufacturers to have reported its gender pay gap. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Kettle Foods factory. The employer is among the Norfolk and Suffolk manufacturers to have reported its gender pay gap. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

New gender pay gap data released by some of Norfolk and Suffolk’s biggest manufacturers has revealed a mixed picture in the industry.

Some of the region’s largest and smallest gender pay gaps have come from the sector, from confectioners to pharmaceuticals companies – but the predominance of men in the workforce, particularly in senior roles, bore its mark even on those companies with small pay gaps.

A gender pay gap – not to be confused with equal pay – is the difference between the average hourly pay of men and women. In the UK the average gap for full and part time workers in median earnings, considered to be more representative, is 18.4%.

Kettle Foods, which is currently in negotiations with its staff over changes to pay and working conditions, reported a median pay gap of 5.2%.

In a statement accompanying the figures the Bowthorpe company said its workforce is 70% male, with men “disproportionately represented” in all pay quartiles due to the “nature of the work”, but that 42% of its senior team are women.

It said. “The average pay reflects that there are more longer serving males who have acquired some additional skills payments over time.”

Kinnerton Confectionary in Fakenham had a median pay gap of 6.7% across its workforce (57% male and 43% female).

The company said it believed that pay should be “wholly gender neutral” and that it had made “great progress in harmonising the pay of comparable roles” in its factory teams.

Medical equipment manufacturer Bespak Europe in King’s Lynn had a median pay gap of 30.1%. In its report, parent company Consort Medical said it would continue to focus on ensuring there were equal opportunities for women to progress with “no glass ceiling”.

At fellow medical company, Thetford-based Baxter Healthcare, the median gap was just 0.7% – however, its mean bonus gap was 24.5%. The company said this was down to more men than women holding senior roles within the organisation, with 13 men and eight women at director level at the time the figures were taken a year ago.

AFE Group, based in King’s Lynn, had a median pay gap of 17.5%. It said the percentages reflected the “gender distribution” across the kitchen equipment manufacturer’s principal occupations.

Its analysis revealed higher paid mechanical, engineering and technical roles were normally held by men, while women typically filled lower paid support roles.

The company said: “We are committed to diversity and equality in areas which we can control.”

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