All companies in the UK with more than 250 employees are required to report their gender pay gap.   The figures disclosed by the biggest companies have shown that the vast majority of them pay men more than women.

There are some exceptions, about 13% say they pay women more on average than men.  7% said they had no pay gap at all.

It still remains, however, that 78% of companies pay men more. The UK has a national median pay gap of 18.4%. The median is the midpoint.

If you line up all the men and women working at a company in two separate lines in order of salary, the median pay gap will be the difference in salary between the woman in the middle of her line and the man in the middle of his.

It’s calculated on an hourly basis and includes both full-time and part-time workers. It’s the key measurement used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There are just three sectors that pay women more than men: the water and waste management sector, household services, and, perhaps surprisingly, mining.

In the world of finance, it is a different picture with this sector having the highest pay gap of all sectors.

The average woman working in the finance sector earns 35.6% less than the average man. Another way of expressing this is that she takes home just 64p for every £1 that her male colleagues earn.

Just eight of the 279 finance companies that have released their data so far have a gender pay gap in favour of women.

Virgin Money reported a pay gap of 38.4% in favour of men, the highest gap among the top players that have reported in the finance sector.

Royal Bank of Scotland has a 36.5% pay gap in favour of men.

The UK is not the only country currently confronting this issue although it is the first year that UK companies have been asked to report their gender pay gap figures

Around the world companies are increasingly being asked to provide the same set of information.

The UK comes below the OECD average with Belgium topping the list for best gender equality.  The UK falls into 27th out of the 37 countries named by the OECD with countries such as Mexico, Columbia and Costa Rica fairing much better. Costa Rica is third in the list. South Korea came out last with the worst gender pay gap.

In France, companies failing to deal with pay discrimination could now face fines under a new employment law.

It seems the UK has some way to go before we see more equality in the workplace.