Gender and Ethnicity Pay Gap Reports 2021

Scientist working in a laboratory

Today we’re publishing Cancer Research UK’s gender and ethnicity pay gap reports.

There is a UK government requirement for all companies with over 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap data. We’ve also published our ethnicity pay gap report, which isn’t a legal requirement, but we welcome the opportunity to be open and transparent. The 2021 gender and ethnicity pay figures are calculated on data available on 5 April 2021.

The Gender Pay Gap and Ethnicity Pay Gap is not the same as Equal Pay, which formed part of the 2010 Equality Act, prohibiting discrimination on grounds of race and gender and other protected characteristics, and involves men and women or white and ethnic minority employees being paid the same for like/similar work. 

The Gender Pay Gap is the difference in average pay between all men and women regardless of the work they perform. The Ethnicity Pay Gap is calculated by comparing the average pay of white employees and ethnic minority employees in an organisation, regardless of the roles they do. 

Over the year, our mean (average) gender pay gap has increased from 15% in 2020 to 19.7% in 2021, and our median (middle) gender pay gap has increased from 29.2% to 30.9%. 

This year has been particularly unusual with the COVID-19 pandemic altering ways of working and leading to a recruitment freeze for four months. We also went through a major organisational restructure that resulted in a significant reduction in staffing, and we saw higher numbers of senior female staff leaving. Since the data was calculated on 5 April 2021, we have appointed several female senior roles and have attained our target of having at least 50% of women in our top two grades – executive director and director – but we know there is still a long way to go.

An indirect consequence of the pandemic, and our reduction in staff numbers outside of our retail arm, means that the retail part of the charity now makes up more than half of our organisation. As these roles are largely held by women, with lower average salaries in the retail sector, this contributes to the gender and ethnicity pay gaps.

It is disappointing that we have not made more progress in closing our gender pay gap. We have plans in place to help us improve our gender pay gap. We’ve already implemented a policy to include salary ranges in all internal and external recruitment adverts, and our recruitment team reviews relevant peer salaries ahead of offers to ensure parity is achieved wherever possible.  We’ve also launched our updated Flexible Working Policy. Most of our office-based roles now have a much greater degree of flexibility and we hope these arrangements will remove some barriers to progression that women and our working parents and carers experience. We’ve also shown our commitment to investing in female leaders through external mentoring and fellowship programmes, such as the Women’s Industry Networking Group.

Our mean ethnicity pay gap has remained similar in 2021 at -9.3%, compared with -9.5% in 2020, meaning minority ethnic employees are paid on average 9.3% more than white employees. Our median ethnicity pay gap, which shows the difference between the salaries of the middle-ranking ethnic minority and white employees, increased from -26.4% in 2020 to -32% in 2021. Cancer Research UK has a relatively low proportion of colleagues from minority ethnic groups, given many of our staff are based in London, so these numbers don’t tell the full story. 

Of the 88% of Cancer Research UK staff that have disclosed their ethnicity data, only 13% are from an ethnic minority. We have implemented changes to our recruitment and selection process to address this, including the introduction of anonymous CVs, as well as increasing our data and reporting on applicant demographics to be more attractive to a diverse range of future employees.

Since the publication of our EDI Strategy in January 2021 we have taken positive steps beyond the issues of gender and ethnicity pay gaps, to achieve progress against our five priority areas.  For example, we published our tobacco and inequalities report ‘Making conversations count for all’ in October 2021, we published our diversity data on our grant funding and our EDI in research action plan demonstrating our commitments for change.  We’ve also made progress to ensure our communications and information are diverse and inclusive, easy to access and understood by all audiences. 

At Cancer Research UK we strongly believe that it is only by putting equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of our charity, and setting ourselves ambitious targets, that we will become the best charity that we can be, a leader in diversity and inclusion, and make the greatest progress in our collective fight against cancer.    

Michelle Mitchell OBE
Chief Executive 
Cancer Research UK