Friday 10th November is the UK’s Equal Pay Day for 2017. The same day as 2016’s. After this date, women, on average, will have been paid their annual earnings compared to the full calendar year earnings of men.
Earlier today I was asked about Equal Pay Day and specifically why this celebration is needed? I think this showed the naivety of the young woman asking the question and the need for more general awareness.
This is not a day to celebrate. This is a day to be angry and sad. It’s a moment in time to pause and think about why, in 2017, we still have such a significant gender pay gap. It represents the under-valuing of half of the UK population.
It also comes a day after the latest gender diversity report on FTSE board membership, shows that whilst progress is being made to have more women on boards, the speed of progress is painfully slow and needs to significantly increase if the FTSE350 are to hit the targets set by the Government’s 2016 Hampton-Alexander Review.
In announcing the gender diversity report, significant weight has been placed on the need to recruit and develop people based on merit. And merit alone. Get the best person for the job. In the rich and diverse country that we live in, this is not always going to be a white male. Yet our larger organisations continue to be run predominantly by white males.
The gender pay gap is not going to change significantly until we have more higher earning, senior women backed up with a strong pipeline of future talent; nor is it going to change substantially until we support more women in their careers, especially during their childbearing years and stop letting motherhood impact negatively on the possibility of a successful career, if so desired. Historically, parenthood has been a time when men’s careers have taken off. Creating a level playing field whereby all parents (both men and women) can benefit from parenting leave, suitable flexible working arrangements and lack of judgement on likely career trajectory has got to be the way forward.
Earlier this year, the UK Government introduced the Gender Pay Reporting requirements for organisations employing more than 250 individuals. This is an attempt to make the gender pay gap more transparent and encourage employers to take action. Why is the government doing this? Not only is it to create a more fair and equitable society but comes from the premise that improved diversity is good for our economy. If the best talent is employed and valued, organisations will perform better. Diversity adds value to organisations.
Still women continue to be employed in lower-paid roles even though women make up 48% of the UK workforce. One argument is that more women work in part-time roles, however when full-time comparisons are made, women still earn 9% less than men. Further explanation can be given by looking at the occupational segregation of men and women that continues to persist – jobs for boys, jobs for girls.
Career-Mums Partnership works predominantly with employers in the West Midlands. The Equal Pay Day for the West Midlands was passed weeks ago, back in September – the gender pay gap is higher in this region than the national average. This means that this region has more to work to do.
Here are some ways that local employers – large and small – can start to close the pay gap:
1. Look at your own organisation
What does it’s gender make-up look like? Where are the men and the women? What levels are they working at? What conclusions can you make about your gender pay profile at different levels and between different teams/departments? If you don’t have access to this type of information, ask questions to those that do.
2. Review how you recruit
Which areas of your organisation would benefit from improved gender diversity? Do you recruit on the basis of merit alone? Challenge your decision making and be aware of unconscious bias and how this impacts on hiring judgements. Introduce ways of minimising bias such as nameless applications and using psychometric testing to inform your decisions.
3. Actively support working parents
Parenthood is a time that organisations are in danger of losing their female talent – either through leaving your employment or being removed from career progression opportunities. Ensure all employees, at all levels, are able to benefit from flexible working arrangements and supported transitions out of and into the organisation. Recognise and support the parenting responsibilities of men.
4. Develop more women leaders
Actively develop more women leaders in your business to strengthen your talent pipeline. Create diverse leadership teams where leadership styles complement one another rather than all being from the same mould. Understand the different development needs that women have in becoming leaders.
Raising awareness of the gender pay gap through the annual Equal Pay Day is a wake-up call for all employers to take responsibility and take action. The Fawcett Society, the people behind the promotion of the Equal Pay Day, are running a campaign to encourage people to make a gender pay gap pledge #paygappledge.
What do you personally pledge to do about this gap?
Contact us to arrange a discussion of ways in which Career-Mums Partnership can support you to take cost-effective action within your organisation to close the gender gap. We’re all about helping you to take small actions to have a big impact – let’s move this date next year.
Career-Mums Partnership are running a free seminar “Developing Women Leaders” as part of Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival #cwbf17.