Fewer than one in five organisations have conducted an equal pay audit in the past five years according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Small private sector firms employing between 50 and 249 employees were least likely to have undertaken an equal pay audit
Although the government is making it a requirement that all public sector bodies should carry out an equal pay audits, private sector organisations are currently exempt from compulsion. But, as the CIPD points out, these figures will only increase calls for audit to be made compulsory in all organisations.
This idea is not popular with private sector employers. An overwhelming majority - 89 per cent - favour a voluntary approach, according to the survey.
Where audits have been carried out, the CIPDís survey of 500 employers shows no significant difference between average male and female earnings in seven out of ten cases.
Where differences did exist Ė in 23 cases - the gap most evident at middle and senior management levels and lowest in manual roles.
Earlier this year, employment analysts Incomes Data Services reported that the gap between men and women's pay widened in 2002 for the fist time in 15 years, a statistic explained by the huge pay rises awarded to a small number of male executives working in the City.