The Gender Pay Gap #paymetoo

The gender pay gap is the difference between the average hourly salaries paid to men and women – and it is growing.

According to the World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Gender Gap Report 2017‘ it will take 217 years to bridge the gender pay gap! 217 years!! So what can we do to drastically reduce that time scale and make sure the next generation of men and women experience workplace equality?

Equal Pay for Equal Work

One hundred years ago, in 1918, Millicent Fawcett, a leading Suffragist and campaigner for the rights of women, wrote that it would not be long before the principal of equal pay for equal work would be universally accepted.

She, along with many other early feminists genuinely believed that with equal suffrage would come equal pay.

Today many of the women I speak to believe this change will be a very long time coming. Why? We have equal rights. Women work across most industries including on the front line, so why, despite most people agreeing with the concept of equal pay, do we still have to fight to break down this last barrier to equality?

What can we do to kick start this change?  

Zara Nanu, CEO of GapSquare, and expert in diversity and inclusion and how they shape dynamic and productive teams and a more engaging and empowering workplace. Zara is passionate about how business can use technology and date to close the gender pay gap to generate social impact as well as revenues and profits.

To understand how you can make changes in your firm join Zara Nanu at The Room Upstairs Lunch on Thursday September 27th when she will be speaking to professional and business women about strategies that will make a difference.

Since 2013, two thirds of OECD countries have introduced new pay equality policies and the UK, Australia, Japan, Germany and Sweden now require employers with more than 250 staff to publish salary scales. The UK is one of the better performers with average disparity between the salaries of men and women around 20% (World Economic Forum). But when you distil down, the difference by sector is much greater – the majority of large to medium sized firms in the UK pay men more than women.

This is not only men and women in the same roles being paid different salaries and there are wide ranging reasons used to justify the differences, such as fewer women in senior or more responsible positions.

Airlines, banks and construction companies are among those with the greatest gender pay gaps. Easyjet and Tui Airways, for example, claim the disparity is because most of their pilots are men. Cabin crew are predominantly female and there pay grade is lower.  Banks(Virgin Money, Clydesdale, TSB, Bank of England) have a similar disproportion or gender bias. Wage rates with some firms can vary from 24% to 47% … and more.

The Government required businesses with more than 250 staff to report their gender pay policies by 4 April, but only 15% of businesses in this category responded. Were they worried about their reputation? The BBC certainly faced an outcry when salaries were published. And while they are trying to close the gap, it is clear that there are still problems.

This Saturday, 8th September 2018, in answer to questions on gender pay at the Women’s Equality Party conference, Sandi Toksvig, presenter of panel show QI, revealed that, while she receives the same as regular QI panel member Alan Davies, she believes she is paid approximately 60% less than her predecessor Stephen Fry. That is 60% less for doing the same job! Is this the Beeb trying to close the gap or another example of inequality?

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI believes that attitudes must change. “It’s about fairness but it is also fundamentally about productivity in our economy”.

There are exceptions, for instance at Three Rivers Council women receive an hourly rate 42% higher than men. Some of the better firms to work for are those where women are in the higher paid office and management roles while men are in manufacturing and sales: Europcar; Diageo; Biffa; and Ocado.

Attitudes are inbred – or are they?

Can we, as parents, change the mind set of our children so that equality of pay is simply part of a fair society? A social experiment in Norway came up with some surprising results. Boys and girls were given the same tasks but at completion the boys were given greater rewards than the girls. Instead of accepting this as a natural result, both the boys and girls were offended – it was not fair.

What other areas affect how men and women are paid?

Sian Webb, VP at GapSquare, believes a blanket approach misses the point. She directs us to the Government toolkit and the need to understand business data. Issues such as parental leave, maternity leave, flexitime, women taking a career break to care for parents or children, all impact not only their career opportunities but also attitudes in the workplace.

Zara Nanu and Sian Webb will be speaking about the gender pay gap and strategies for change at The Room Upstairs Lunch on Thursday September 27th  Join them and find out how you too can make a difference.

Sandi Goddard is a business and brand strategist working with MDs and owners who wish to grow their businesses dramatically. She brings a fresh perspective and delivers solutions that work.

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