Original Research

Gender pay gap in salary bands among employees in the formal sector of South Africa

Adeboye M. Adelekan, Mark H.R. Bussin
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 16 | a1018 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v16i0.1018 | © 2018 Mark H.R. Bussin, Adeboye Adelekan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 November 2017 | Published: 16 August 2018

About the author(s)

Adeboye M. Adelekan, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Mark H.R. Bussin, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Orientation: The gender pay gap is a worldwide challenge that has persisted despite political will and interventions. Comparably qualified women performing similar work as men continue to earn less. There are conflicting views in the literature regarding the status of the gender pay gap.

Research purpose: The purpose of the study was to determine status of the gender pay gap among employees in the same salary band and to establish whether men and women receive similar pay for similar work in the study population.

Motivation for study: The status of the gender pay gap would establish the progress made towards closing the gap and guide necessary adjustments to interventions.

Research approach/design and method: A quantitative analysis was conducted on the pay information of 217 902 employees collected in a survey from over 700 companies, across 10 job families and 6 industries.

Main findings: Men’s pay was consistently higher than that of women in all salary bands except at the 75th and 95th percentile in sub-bands B-lower and B-upper and 25th percentile in sub-band E-upper. The gender pay gap ranged from 8% in band A to 27.1% in sub-band F-upper. The gaps observed in the salary bands were statistically significant (p < 0.0001) except in sub-band E-upper, F-lower and F-upper, indicating convergence towards similar pay for similar work at senior to top management levels. Women were under-represented in all salary bands with the lowest presence in band F, especially sub-band F-upper. Gender, race, job family and industry have a significant effect on income earned in the study sample.

Practical/managerial implications: Government’s efforts seemed to have produced minimal results as women are represented in all job families, industries and salary bands. The pay of men and women in senior and top management levels was similar. However, more still needs to be done to achieve the 50% target representation of women in senior management and close the gap at all levels.

Contribution/value-add: The number of women at management levels is still very low when compared to their male counterparts. However, the gender pay gap in senior to top management positions are converging towards similar pay for work of similar value.


gender pay gap; compensation; remuneration; discrimination; pay-gap ratio


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