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Some of Canada’s biggest companies have slightly shrunk the gender pay gap for their employees in Britain, but for most the differences remain significantly higher than the national average.

It’s the second year companies are reporting under a British law designed to expose differences between the compensation for male and female workers. The pay report is limited to British employees and doesn’t cover pay practices in Canada and the United States, where no similar reporting requirements exist.

The gender-pay-gap data do not compare individual men and women with the same or similar jobs. Rather, it examines compensation for all men and women within the organization, regardless of their role or seniority.

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Any company that employs at least 250 workers must file a report outlining the difference between the average hourly rate of pay and bonuses paid to men and women, the proportions of men and women who receive bonuses, and the proportions of men and women in each quartile of pay. (A quartile is one-quarter of an ordered list.)

The median hourly wage for women is 12 per cent lower than men’s, on average, at the more than 10,400 companies that had reported by late Thursday, according to an analysis of the data.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said Canada’s wage gap – the difference between median earnings of men and women – was 18.2 per cent in 2017, essentially even with the United States and better than only six countries in their study. (The OECD calculated the British gap at 16.5 per cent.) The Canadian federal government plans pay-equity and reporting rules for federally regulated employers with 10 or more employees.

At several banks’ British units, including those of Bank of Nova Scotia, Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal, the wage gap narrowed by one or two percentage points from 2017 to 2018, but remained high overall.

The gap, however, was smaller outside of financial services. Bombardier Transportation UK, for example, reported a wage gap of 2.1 per cent, narrowed from 7 per cent in 2017.

At BMO Asset Management Services Ltd., the median hourly wage for women is 32.4 per cent lower than men’s. At RBC’s three British corporate entities, the figures were 27 per cent, 29 per cent and 55 per cent. At Scotiabank, the figure was 35 per cent.

“'Gender pay gap reporting’ does not show differences in rates of pay for similar or comparable roles and is not the same as equal pay for equal work, which Scotiabank is committed to across our business,” spokeswoman Heather Armstrong said in an e-mailed statement.

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“There remains a disproportionate representation of men in front office roles across many industries. A gender pay gap results in large part due to a lack of progression of female talent into more senior positions within a business. At Scotiabank, we are committed to addressing this ‘talent gap’ head on.”

In its annual report on the British data, BMO said it has about 600 British employees and “we have set ambitious targets over a three-year period to increase the number of female employees in all teams and at all levels.” And RBC said “the advancement of women is a priority” and it has “a number of programs and initiatives in place to help drive greater change” in its pay numbers.

At Toronto-Dominion Bank, a wide gap in salary grew wider. The median hourly wage for women is 49.9 per cent lower than men’s, a spread that increased by two percentage points from the 2017 report to the 2018 report. Only 10 per cent of the employees among the top quartile of TD’s British employees are women.

TD spokeswoman Lynsey Wynberg said in an e-mailed statement the bank needs to “keep working to attract more women to higher paying roles … while we are making progress there is much more work ahead.”

In 2018, TD “took a broad view across our [more than 85,000 employees] and conducted extensive research with a third party,” she said. "The review found that women are paid 99 cents for every dollar earned by men in base salary and total compensation, adjusting for factors such as level, geography and role.”

BlackBerry UK Ltd. reported a wage gap of 15.8 per cent, narrowed from 29.2 per cent the year prior. The company didn’t respond to a request from The Globe and Mail for comment.

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A number of Canadian companies did beat the British average or, in one case, paid women more.

The median salary paid to women at Lululemon was 3.2 per cent higher than that paid to men, an increase of two percentage points. In contrast to most of the Canadian companies, 75 per cent, or the vast majority, of the best-paid quarter of employees were women. The company didn’t respond to a request from The Globe for comment.

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