According to equality campaigners such as the Fawcett Society, too many employers are doing little more than filing results, rather than working out how and why pay gaps exist and what measures could be taken to address them.

The GW4 Pay Equality Research Consortium will relaunch in 2019 under the Sustaining Communities initiative. It will hold its first meeting on Friday 10 May, and will organise a high-level stakeholder workshop later in the year.

Initially formed in 2015 to look at ways of supporting employers as they prepared for the first round of gender pay gap reporting, the revamped GW4 Pay Equality Research Consortium will conduct new research into why gender pay gaps remain so persistent. Analysing the data provided by gender pay gap reports, a key focus will be on why, despite reporting obligations, are organisations failing to make the inroads expected at levelling the playing field.

Dr Susan Milner from the University of Bath’s Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, who leads the consortium, explains: “Much of the commentary on the second round of gender pay gap reporting has focused, rightly, on the steps that need to be taken to make the regulations more effective. But we also need much better, contextualised understanding of the blockages at workplace level, and how they can be overcome.

“Reducing gender pay gaps requires sustained attention to wider labour market structures that trap women in low-paid jobs. On the other hand, just under half of employers did make progress in reducing their gender pay gap, so it would be useful to investigate how and why that happened. In the Pay Equality Research Consortium, we will look at ways that academic research can contribute to that ongoing work.”