Gender pay gap in Northern Ireland 'must be addressed'
Northern Ireland's 9.1% gender pay gap "must be addressed" urgently, according to leading businesswoman. While the difference in pay between men and women here is half the UK's 18.1%, Ann McGregor, the chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said more should be done to decrease the deficit even further.
"The gender pay gap has long been an issue for government and business," she added.
"While the gender pay gap among workers in Northern Ireland, at 9.1%, is half that of the UK, we would welcome a further decrease.
"Some of our major companies are led by females and there are many more keen to get to the top of their career ladder.
"However, they are perhaps being held back by the impact the gender pay gap is having on them reaching their goals. This must be addressed."
Thousands of employers today publish their gender pay gap figures for the first time, in line with new legislation designed to end discrimination and create a more modern workforce.
Under the new laws, voluntary, private and public sector employers with 250 or more employees will be required to publish their figures before April 2018.
The regulations will cover approximately 9,000 employers with more than 15 million employees, representing nearly half of the UK's workforce.
The UK is one of the first countries in the world to require pay gap reporting. The Government promised to introduce the measure at the last election.
It is believed that eliminating work-related gender gaps could add £150bn to the UK's annual GDP by 2025.
Minister for Women and Equalities Justine Greening said: "We have more women in work, more women-led businesses than ever before and the highest proportion of women on the boards of our biggest companies.
"Helping women to reach their full potential isn't only the right thing to do, it makes good economic sense and is good for British business.
"I am proud that the UK is championing gender equality and now those employers that are leading the way will clearly stand out with these requirements."
Last month, PriceWaterhouseCooper's annual Women In Work Index showed Northern Ireland had the lowest gender pay gap of all the UK regions.
The study put that down to a significantly higher percentage of women working in public administration.
There was also greater proportion of men working in lower-paid and more traditional industries.