"Salary expectation gap between genders doubles in two years"

Covid-19 has drastically transformed workplace priorities with women placing higher importance on job security while men seek more recognition, according to new research.

The survey of 23,000 workers by employer branding specialist Universum, showed that the gender pay gap could be set to worsen following the pandemic with women losing confidence in their earning potential while men expect to earn more.

In 2020 men expect to earn 25% more than women – up from 13% more in 2018. Interestingly, men’s salary expectations have increased since the outbreak of Covid-19 – growing from £40,500 in 2019 to £41,600 in 2020 while women’s expectations have dropped from £31,400 to £31,000.

Universum’s annual Most Attractive Employers report studied people’s career expectations, what employer attributes they consider most important and which employers are the most desirable to work for. Having been conducted every year over the last five, it offers insights into the potential long-term impact of Covid-19 on today’s workforce and how the pandemic could widen the divide between men and women.

When asked what attributes people look for when thinking about an employer, responses show that today men are more drawn towards challenging work and increased recognition, while women prefer companies with better job security, leaders who will support their development and continued education opportunities.

Universum’s UK Director Steve Ward said: “Male and female professionals have had a remarkably different response during the pandemic. While men hope to remain challenged, recognised and be rewarded more, women are erring towards attributes that provide greater support and security.

"With IFS research showing that mothers were more likely than fathers to have left paid work during lockdown, the impact of Covid-19 on earning confidence and the gender pay gap could be set to get worse as we enter another round of tight restrictions from government. It’s never been more important for employers create a culture that recognises life outside work and embraces flexibility.”

Alongside widening the salary expectation gap between men and women, the insecurity around jobs caused by Covid-19 appears to be leading workers to broaden their job search before deciding where they ultimately would like to work. In 2019, the average UK professional considered an average of 21 employers; however, in less than a year this number has increased to an average of 26 suggesting recent volatility could be making it more difficult to choose a long term employer.

The report also suggests that Covid-19 has inspired all genders to seek out more socially-conscious employment. In the rankings of most desirable companies, The British Council, Environment Agency and Oxfam were some of the biggest climbers this year, while the NHS kept hold of its title as the top British preferred employer. 

According to Universum, the top ten most desirable organisations to work for in the business sector are:

  1. Google
  2. NHS
  3. Netflix
  4. Apple
  5. BBC
  6. Amazon
  7. Civil Service
  8. Nike
  9. HM Revenue and Customs
  10. John Lewis


Let’s Get To Work!

Join for free to become a part of our exclusive members network of HR heroes who are taking on the biggest challenges in today’s workforce.

Register Today