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Cancer Research UK releases 2023 gender and ethnicity pay gap reports

The Cancer Research UK logo
by Cancer Research UK | News

3 April 2024

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A woman in a charity shop
Credit: John Nicholson

Cancer Research UK is dedicated to becoming a more inclusive and diverse workplace where all staff feel as if they can belong and thrive. 

These priorities, among other actions to help accelerate progress and change, were set out in the charity’s equality, diversity and inclusion strategy which was published in 2021. 

As a continued commitment to remaining transparent about progress and challenges, today Cancer Research UK has published its gender and ethnicity pay gap reports for the reporting period of April 2022 to April 2023.  

The pay gap is not the same as equal pay. Cancer Research UK operates several practices across the entire employee lifecycle to ensure fair and consistent decisions on pay, and is confident that pay is set fairly for similar roles across the charity. 

Gender pay gap 

The gender pay gap is the difference in average pay between all female and male staff working at Cancer Research UK.  

For 2023, the charity’s mean gender pay gap is 16.7%, down from 18.3% in 2022. The median pay gap is 21.2%, down from 27.6% in 2022.  

It’s encouraging that the 2023 results show another year of improvement, though the gender pay gap remains higher than the charity would want it to be.  

The reduction in the pay gap since 2022 is largely a result of the action the charity has taken on pay since 2022, including implementing a 3.5% annual salary review for eligible staff and a 9.7% increase to the National Living Wage.   

As in previous years, the gender pay gap across the charity is driven by the overall shape and distribution of female (76%) and male (24%) staff across the charity. This includes those working in the charity’s shops which make up more than half of Cancer Research UK’s workforce.  

To better understand the pay gaps, this year the charity has interrogated the data in more detail by splitting out retail and non-retail data. The retail results are encouraging, with a mean gender pay gap of 0.8% and a median of –1.9% in favour of female workers. 

Female staff make up around 80% of those employed in the charity’s retail roles, which is typical of the sector in the UK. As retail is generally a lower paid sector with little variance in pay between roles, this has an impact on the pay gap resulting in an average hourly rate for female staff across the organisation being lower than for male staff.  

The ethnicity pay gap 

While publishing ethnicity pay gap reports is not a legal requirement, the charity welcomes the opportunity to demonstrate its progress and remains committed to becoming a more diverse and inclusive organisation. 

The ethnicity pay gap is calculated by comparing the average pay of White staff to other ethnic minority employees. 

In 2023, the charity’s mean ethnicity gap was –5%, compared with –5.9% in 2022. The median ethnicity pay gap has also reduced, from –23.3% in 2022, to –15.3% in 2023. 

It’s encouraging that both the mean and median ethnicity pay gaps have narrowed again in 2023. Although the pay gap has been in favour of ethnic minority staff since Cancer Research UK began monitoring and publishing the data, it’s only one indicator of the experience of employees and is based on small numbers.  

The main factors influencing the ethnicity pay gap are the low numbers of ethnic minority staff employed across all levels and roles in the charity, and the lower proportion of ethnic minority staff employed on the retail side of the charity. There are a significantly higher proportion of ethnic minority staff in higher paid parts of the charity (for example in technology). 

Cancer Research UK is highly motivated to continue to improve inclusion and ethnic diversity at the charity, having set a target to increase the proportion of ethnic minority staff to 16% by the end of 2023.  

In April 2023, the proportion of ethnic minority staff across Cancer Research UK included in the ethnicity pay gap reporting had increased from 12% to 14%, based on the 90% of staff who enclosed their ethnicity. 

There has been more progress since then, with data from 31st December 2023 showing that 15.3% of the charity’s workforce were from an ethnic minority background. But there is still work to be done, and later this year the charity will be reviewing their targets as part of an EDI strategy refresh. 

The next steps 

Cancer Research UK continues to strive towards to becoming a more inclusive and diverse charity. By encompassing people from different backgrounds and perspectives at all levels, and by having a culture of inclusion, the charity believes it can make the greatest progress for people with cancer and their loved ones.  

The charity will continue to ensure that staff are paid equal pay for equal work. Cancer Research UK will also strive to maintain its target of 50% of leadership roles held by female staff, and work toward at least 12% of Executive Board, Director and Head roles being held by people from ethnic minority backgrounds.  

The charity recently launched a second round of Ignite, a leadership development programme aimed at high potential staff from ethnic minority backgrounds with the ambition to move into leadership roles. This comes following the success of the first round in which 42% of those still working at the charity achieved a promotion or lateral move after the programme. You can find out more about the actions being taken to close the pay gaps in the reports. 

The charity hopes to continue to make progress and remains committed to highlighting the key areas where changes can be made to facilitate a diverse and inclusive organisation. Later in 2024, the charity will be evaluating its 2021-2023 EDI strategy and will outline its ambitions for the future.  

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