This year saw the first ever gender pay gap report, that highlighted the true extent of the differences in pay between men and women in the UK. Of the 10,000 large businesses who were required to provide details of their gender pay gap, 75% were paying men more than women!
What is gender pay gap?
This term refers to the percentage difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women. It is different to equal pay which refers to men and women doing the same job for the same money. Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful to pay people unequally for the same job because of their gender.
Why is there a gender pay gap?
In the 21st century it seems odd that there is such a thing as the gender pay gap. Under the Equality act men and women have equal rights and it has become the norm for women to have the same opportunities as those afforded to men, in terms of their ability to gain qualifications and enter the world of employment. Having said that the issue is far more complex than equal rights would suggest.
According to The Fawcett Society who campaign for equality, caring responsibilities often play a big part. Women are often the ones to take career breaks to care for children and even when they remain at work are more likely to take on part-time roles or jobs with less opportunity for progression in favour of flexibility.
A second key factor is a divided labour market. According to the Living Wage Foundation, women are more likely to work in lower skilled or lower paid jobs and they currently account for 62% of people earning less than the living wage. On the other end of the scale, men tend to have more senior roles that are the highest paid, within an organisation.
What can businesses do to start addressing the gender pay gap?
The Department of Work and Pensions has published information from the Government Equalities Office about actions that have been proven to reduce the gender pay gap, to assist organisations with their planning. They have also included ‘promising actions’ and those that have had mixed results. The ‘effective actions’ include:
• Ensuring more than one woman is shortlisted when recruiting or promoting, to increase chances of a woman being selected.
• Encouraging salary negotiations by showing pay ranges.
• Introducing transparency to promotion, pay and reward practices (forcing decisions to be objective and evidence based).
• Appointing diversity managers (to monitor processes such as recruitment to ensure they are being done fairly and without bias).
There isn’t a one size fits all answer to this issue, so businesses will have to find their own way to address the gender pay gap and they will again be required to submit details of it in April 2019.