Responding to demands for details on the pay gap between male and female employees has been an uncomfortable experience for many organisations.

For sectors such as financial services it is especially unnerving given the implications for what needs to take happen to rectify the imbalance.

There is plenty of truth that the figures are skewed. The  mean gender pay gap of 48% at Barclays results from the number of male high earners in the group’s investment bank.

This won’t sit well with female employees of the bank and elsewhere.

That said, the real value of publishing these figures is to track the progress of organisations in attacking these differentials- something we will discover over the next year or two.

There is also a shocking pay disparity amongst the Big Four accounting firms that most FDs are drawn from.

Deloitte said that its mean average pay as 43.2%, up from 18.2% figure it reported in July. But its median pay gap figure was 15.2%, down from 15.3% in October.

EY said when it included partners in its calculations, its mean pay gap rose to 38.1%, and its median to 19.5%. That was up from the mean of 19.7% and median of 14.8% when it published figures in October.

PwC has said that it would be publishing its pay gap figures to include partners “within the next few days”. KPMG said it would also update its data to include partner earnings.

Finance directors across all organisations play a key role because as heads of the finance function they have clear sight of what is going in in an organisation and are able to measure the pay gap and the underlying degree to which women are taking up senior roles.

In the meantime, there are far too few female, and non-white, finance directors amidst the ranks of the UK’s biggest companies.

Real progress needs to be made-not  just because of the fundamental importance of gender parity- but because all organisations benefit from a diverse workforce, from the board down.

Change needs to come, sooner rather than later.