The Gender Pay Gap at Wise

Hayley Bucur
28.03.22
6 minute read

What is the gender pay gap?

Since 2017, companies with more than 250 employees in the UK have had to report a series of figures annually on the 5 April, as a snapshot of the previous year’s data.

The gender pay gap is the difference in average hourly earnings between men and women working within the same organisation. It shows us how women and men are being paid across the team and helps us understand whether women are represented in senior roles, and in the best paid areas of the business such as Product and Engineering.

How is the gender pay gap different from equal pay?

The 1970 Equal Pay Act made it illegal to pay people doing the same job differently based on gender, a ruling which has since expanded to cover other protected characteristics. Wise is fully compliant with the Equal Pay Act.

The gender pay gap, however, is a broader overview of the salaries and benefits earned by men and women within Wise, regardless of their role or seniority.

What is Wise’s pay gap?

On 5th April 2021, Wise had over 470 people working in its London office. 30% of the London team were women, 70% were men. To calculate this data, we’ve used the legal gender of team members when they joined the business. In the near future, we’re planning to make this more inclusive and allow employees to list the gender (if any) that they most identify with.

Wise’s pay gap looked like this.

5 April 2021

Women Men Pay Gap
Mean hourly pay £32.73 £40.91 20%
Median hourly pay £31.62 £39.29 19.52%

* Data for 2021 is taken as of April 2021 payroll, on the 5th April 2021

And in order to understand how things have changed since last year, we’ve also included our 2020 numbers.

5 April 2020

Women Men Pay Gap
Mean hourly pay £28.71 £37.50 23.43%
Median hourly pay £27.31 £35.93 24.00%

Our mean hourly pay gap has decreased by 3.43 percentage points, and our median hourly pay gap has reduced by almost 4.5 percentage points. At the same time, hourly pay for women increased more dramatically - by 14% (mean) and 15.8% (median) - than hourly pay for men - by 9% (mean) and 9.3% (median). While we’re pleased to see the gap narrowing and women’s salaries increasing, we know we still have plenty of work to do to improve.

Are bonuses included in the pay gap?

Wise doesn’t offer a traditional annual bonus, choosing to offer stock in the business to all employees instead. The number of stock options allocated is benchmarked by role and experience level, and those who have been with the business for longer could have more options than newer joiners.

Wise grants Non-qualified stock options (NSOs) to its employees. In the UK, Wise originally offered employees share options via the EMI or CSOP schemes, which are employee tax advantage schemes designed for smaller companies.

NSOs are part of a company's bonus structure as defined by the UK Government, so any stock options sold from this scheme are included in the bonus numbers below.Options sold by people holding EMI and CSOP options are not included.

Other benefits offered at Wise which class as bonuses are: refer a friend to work at Wise (£1000), a £1000 gift alongside a six week paid sabbatical for employees who serve four years with the firm, and relocation allowances.
While it's our employees' own choice to sell their stock options, when, and at what price, we wanted to share this information for transparency.

5 April 2021

Women Men Bonus Gap
Mean bonus £19,111 £37,998 49.71%
Median bonus £9,917 £6,843 -44.93%

  • Data for 2021 is taken as of April 2021 payroll, on the 5th April 2021

You can see also see how this compares to last year:

5 April 2020

Women Men Bonus Gap
Mean bonus £7,437.84 £29,609.35 86.66%
Median bonus £2,200.00 £2,200.00 0.00%

  • Data for 2020 is taken as of April 2020 payroll, on the 5th April 2020

What does the gender pay split look like at Wise?

We split everyone in the London office into four equal quartiles from the lowest to the highest paid. Last year, we saw a higher percentage of men in the upper and upper middle quartiles, and more women in the lower quartiles. Despite our hiring efforts, the top section hasn’t changed.

However, we have increased the number of women in the upper middle quartile by 5 percentage points, while the lower middle has increased by 8 percentage points, reducing the lower quartile by 7 percentage points.

20212020
Women Men Women Men
Top 18% 82% 18% 82%
Upper middle 20% 80% 15% 85%
Lower middle 36% 64% 28% 72%
Lower 48% 52% 55% 45%

Why do we have a pay gap?

Wise is a large business. We’ve grown very quickly, and continue to do so. Today, we have over 3,000 people across seventeen global offices, and since we reported in 2021 our London team has expanded to more than 600 people. We’re also looking to hire 1,000 people globally this year.

Our London office is home to a wide range of people working at various job levels, including our senior leadership team, a high proportion of product managers and engineers, as well as marketing, design, people, finance and legal teams.

As with many technology companies, a significant proportion of our highest paying roles still sit within our engineering team, a historically male dominated field. Our founders are male, and a large portion of the senior leadership team based out of the UK office are male, which heavily influences our gender pay gap.

While these elements go some way in explaining our pay gap, they by no means excuse it. We have identified these causes as areas we need to work on long term, to improve Wise’s gender diversity.

How are we tackling this?

We’re committed to closing Wise’s gender pay gap. We have identified four areas which we’re continuing to focus on.

1. Foster an inclusive recruitment process to help bring in, and support, more applicants who are women

  • Enhancing our inclusive job ad templates to help reduce bias language in our recruitment processes.
  • Further developing our ‘values based interview training’ with added structure that supports a more objective selection process when assessing candidates.

2. Widening the funnel to help diverse engineering candidates find Wise

  • Expanding our current sourcing strategy for women engineers, using tactics like engineering sourcing sessions, referral drives, and working with our current women in engineering to help us reach out to candidates.
  • Proactively headhunting women engineering candidates across all levels of experience.

3. Headhunting and promoting women into senior leadership

  • We announced the appointment of Terri Duhon, as a Non Executive Director. This follows the appointment of two other Non Executive Directors, Clare Gilmartin (former CEO of the Trainline) and Hooi Ling Tan (co-founder Grab), meaning our board of directors is now 37.5% women. We will be adding more board appointments over the coming years, headhunting only women candidates.
  • We’re increasing the support we offer for women to achieve leadership roles at Wise. We ran leadership development training for women Wisers in all our global offices, as well as running separate executive coaching for those who have specific goals and targets.

At Wise we’re proud to be an inclusive and mission-driven employer. To cater to a diverse workforce, we’re offering a range of benefits and policies for different people and circumstances.

However, our pay gap shows we still have work to do when it comes to bringing more women into our senior team, and in product and engineering roles.

We know that better diversity means stronger, more experienced teams, as well as a more relevant product for our customers. We’re committed to improving our position, and believe that through our long-term recruitment plans, and continued investment into DEI at Wise, we can improve our gender diversity in these areas.


Glossary:

  1. A stock option is the right to buy a set number of shares at a fixed price, often called the strike price, grant price, or exercise price. The price is usually determined by the fair market value, or whatever the shares are worth when you’re granted the options.

  2. NSOs are Non-Qualified stock options.They are a type of employee stock option where you pay ordinary income tax on the difference between the grant price and the price at which you exercise.

  3. The Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) is a tax-advantaged share option scheme designed for smaller companies. The EMI is a share option scheme that enables companies to attract and retain key staff by rewarding them with equity participation in the business.

  4. The CSOP is a tax qualified discretionary option plan under which a company may grant options to any employee to acquire shares at an exercise price which must be no less than the market value of the shares on the grant date.

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