HSBC Holdings paid its female staff in Britain 59% less on average than their male colleagues last year, the widest gender disparity gap among the major firms to have disclosed the data and more than three times the national average.

The gap will widen to 60% this year, Britain’s biggest bank said in a report Thursday. The disparity is wider than at Barclays, which last month said women at its corporate and investment bank earned on average 48% less than male employees. The national average pay gap is about 18%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

HSBC office tower shot
Source of problem
While female employees account for 54% of HSBC's workforce, only 23% of its senior leadership positions are occupied by women, the bank said.


HSBC said the pay gap points to the disproportionate number of men in senior positions. While female employees account for 54% of the bank’s workforce, only 23% of its senior leadership positions are occupied by women, HSBC said. For employees who received bonuses, the median gender pay gap for the variable compensation was 86%.

"We recognize that there is more work to do to address our gender balance at senior levels," the lender said.

All companies with more than 250 U.K. employees have to disclose their gender pay gaps by April 4. As of Thursday, only 2,258 of an expected 9,000 companies had submitted data to the government website.

Among large companies, EasyJet PLC, the no-frills airline, previously had the highest mean gender pay gap, at 51.7%. At the privately owned fashion retailer Phase Eight it is higher still, at 64.8%.

Bloomberg News