The state of gender equality in UK startups

Our mission at Figures is to empower companies to take fair and efficient compensation decisions.

Fair HQ is the first tech platform for Diversity & Inclusion, powered by data & behavioural science.

This is why you’ll find below the most transparent picture possible of Gender Equality in UK start-ups: accept this as our modest contribution to fight for a more equitable world.
Updated on 2022.06.27 - based on 223 companies
Gender pay gap
Unequal pay

Our methodology explained here

The gender pay gap measures overall differences in pay between men and women. It’s a consequence of many causes, and less an issue tied to compensation only.
Unequal pay is the difference in pay between men and women holding the exact same role in the exact same location. It’s the best indicator of “pure” compensation-related issues regarding gender equality.
To put the above numbers in perspective - the UK-wide 2021 gender pay gap stands at 15.4%. In other words, start-ups and tech companies are doing almost twice as badly as the country as a whole.

Women representation in management

C-level roles are still dominated by men with only 15% of top exec positions held by women.
→ Women are still more likely to take on childcare responsibilities than men. While shared parental leave is starting to emerge in the UK, the most common model is still that women take a substantial amount of time off work while men only stay at home for a couple of weeks.
→ When women return to work, they often still find themselves being the primary caregiver for their child(ren) and decide to work part-time more commonly than men. It’s key for companies to put in place flexible working policies, part-time C-level roles and shared parental leave (or enhanced paternity leave).
→ Research has shown that men tend to be more aggressive in asking for pay rises and promotions - and without proper data transparency, bosses seem to respond favorably to that approach, assuming that if someone stands up for themselves more than someone else, they may just be more deserving of a promotion.
Proportion of women
among founders

Even worse, only about 1% of VC funding in Europe went to startups with an all-female founding team. Societal factors also play a role for the low representation of women among UK founders.
Job family
Percentage of women
Customer support
Legal & Compliance
Marketing & Growth
People Operations
Product & Design
Sales / Customer Success
Software Engineering

Women representation
per job family

A big driver of the unadjusted gender pay gap is a skew in representation based on job function.
Women still dominate HR and People roles (>¾ of them are held by women in the UK) while men dominate Engineering (>80%), Data (70%) and other technical roles.
Tech roles are typically the best-paid within any organisation - and the fact that they’re predominantly held by men drives the pay gap upwards.
Companies should address this issue early on - it’s much more difficult to hire your first woman into your Engineering team when you already have 20 men (including all Managers) than when you’re just starting out and building your workforce.
Some ways to increase the pool of female candidates could be to hire internationally / sponsor visas or to drop the requirement for a Computer Science degree (>80% of graduates will already be male) and instead provide additional on-the-job training.

Women’s perception of the pay & bonus fairness

→ 13% gap between the perception women & men on fairness of the pay in their companies

→ 16% gap between the perception women & men on needing to do the “house office work”

→ 21% gap between the perception women & men on needing to do more to be recognized at work

All of these areas are very much linked to gender pay gap (and unequal pay too to some extend)

Address these topics tomorrow with

fairhq logoLogo Figures