NEST has announced its commitment to closing the pay gap, as latest figures show an increase in gender and ethnicity pay gap at the workplace pension scheme.

The data for the period until 31 March 2023 showed that the median gender pay gap at NEST was 11% (or £3.69 per hour), an increase of 1.5% from 2021/22, when the gap was 9.5% (or £3.07 per hour).

The median ethnicity pay gap was 18% (or £6.03 per hour), an increase of 6.1% from 2021/22 when the gap was 11.9% (and £3.79 per hour).

NEST attributed the increase in the pay gap to more women than men leaving the corporation the previous year. It said that 41% of leavers were from the upper-mid quartile and upper quartile range, which it said would have had a negative impact on the pay gap.

Additionally, while there were more female new starters this year compared to male, it said that 62% were hired in the lower quartile range.

People from an ethnic minority background represent 27% of the workforce at NEST, compared with around 14% of the general population of England and Wales. However, employees from an ethnic minority background continue to be under-represented in the upper pay quartile and over-represented in the lower quartile, NEST added.

Helen Dean, chief executive officer at Nest, said: “I was disappointed to see the figures show that over the past year our ethnicity pay gap has widened. However, I am proud that our workforce continues to maintain a greater representation of employees from ethnic minority backgrounds compared to the proportion found in the UK’s working-age population.”

Dean said she is confident that NEST is taking this issue “very seriously” and that with greater transparency and a targeted holistic plan, it can close the gap.

“At NEST, we work to create an inclusive environment where everyone, including women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds can progress and not be held back by bias or unfairness. We’ll keep finding new ways to do this, and we understand that there are areas where we need to improve,” she added.

Dean noted that NEST will “never” become complacent about equality and diversity.

NEST’s diversity equality and inclusion sponsor, chief financial officer Richard Lockwood, also expressed his disappointment at the report’s results but said that recent increases in new hires from ethnic minority backgrounds and initiatives NEST designed to decrease the gap are “encouraging”.

“We know there’s more to do, but we are fully committed to move in the right direction,” he said, adding that the report reflects NEST’s commitment to closing the gender pay gap.

“Through improved recruitment practices, workforce development, flexible working, and fostering an inclusive culture, we aim to achieve pay parity. We will continue taking action until equality is achieved,” he said.

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