The gender pay gap at the UK's largest employers has increased despite a government drive to urge companies to improve women's salaries.
While the 553 companies paying women less than men represented a drop of 29 for 2018 compared with the year before, the average median pay gap increased by 0.02 per cent year on year.
That leaves large companies – those employing more than 5,000 staff – with an average pay gap of 10.34 per cent.
Of those firms, 209 saw their pay gap widen, although 239 reduced the gap between men and women's pay.
It means that more than half of the country's biggest employers have failed to narrow the pay gap, with 45 per cent of firms increasing the gap in favour of men and seven per cent staying the same.
For those in London, the signs were more positive. Companies headquartered in London reduced the gender pay gap on average by 0.39 per cent.
The average median pay gap stood at 13.72 per cent in 2017, but contracted slightly to 13.34 last year.
Just as significantly, 295 more companies stopped paying women less than men last year, compared with the previous 12 months.
The pay gap decreased at 970 companies based in the capital, but it did increase at 716.
“If this has taught us anything, it’s that we need to have more open and transparent conversations at work,” Shine for Women founder, Caroline Whaley, said of the pay gap increase.
“We need to make the office more human. We need to empower men just as much as women and remember this cannot be a man vs. woman issue. We’d like men to be less inadvertently fearful of the situation so they don’t side-line women, which is what we see happening every day.”
Firms had until midnight yesterday to file their pay comparison data or risk facing legal action.
Only 10,444 firms did so, which is 119 less than last year, although it is unclear whether this is due to companies closing down rather than failing to respond, as the government does not have a definitive list of those required to answer.
Last year was the first time that the government has forced employers with more than 250 staff to report their gender pay gap, but this week's figures have shown it has remained largely unchanged at the biggest companies.
One of those performing well has been challenger bank Monzo, where the discrepancy between women and men's pay fell from 48 per cent in 2017 to 14 per cent in 2018.
The bank admitted that it is still “clear that we need to continue to improve”, however.