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Why we need to take the gender pay gap seriously

You have probably heard a lot about the gender pay gap in recent months. The fact that there is still a pretty big disparity between the take-home pay of men and women has risen to the surface in the media in a very big way. Partly this is because the media themselves, in the surprising form of the BBC, have been part of the story.

Employers with more than 250 employees must now specifically report on any difference in pay between men and women. This is one of the things that is currently highlighting the difference in pay scales. I appreciate that it probably came as a shock to many employers, but I am sure they are working to rectify the situation in the most practical way. This is, of course, a step in the right direction, but there is still a way to go. Unfortunately, there is still a difference in pay when it comes to men and women in equivalent roles.

The Office for National Statistics is often a source of some surprising information, and their recent article on understanding the pay gap was no exception. There is a link below so if you want to look through the whole report but let me pull out a few of the more startling facts and dispel some myths.

  • The pay gap is getting smaller, so the problem must be reducing. This is absolutely true, and on average, the distance between the earnings of men and women is less. However, before we start to celebrate this too much, there is a bit of hyperbole here. The gap is smaller yes, but it is smaller by 0.3%. It is great that it is reducing, but it still stands at a 9.1% overall.
  • Women are getting into more management roles. Again, this is true, but the pay gap still exists there. Not only that, but men still earn more, and as a real shocker in very highly paid roles women can earn as much as 50% less than men.
  • Women have a different career pattern, and this is why they earn less. There is actually some truth to this because there are more women in part-time roles than men but, allowing for the variables, around 63% of the pay gap is unexplainable. That means women are simply being paid less for no real reason.
  • It gets better with age. No, sorry, it really doesn’t. In fact, this is actually one of the most startling and in honesty, infuriating, results. Not only does the pay gap exist but it gets wider with the relative age of the employee. Younger employees still see a gap, but it is much less than for more mature workers. To quote the report directly:

"When looking at age groups, the gap for full-time workers remains small at younger ages; however, from age 40 onwards the gap widens, reaching its peak between ages 50 to 59." 

This is an incredible fact that seems to suggest that as your experience grows, it has less value if you are a woman. That is not only wrong it is, from purely a logical business point of view, absolutely astoundingly so.

It goes without saying that we would never knowingly undervalue a candidate here at 24-7 Staffing, and I know from experience that employers are looking for the best teams regardless of gender. So it would seem that we have a situation here that nobody agrees with or wants, and yet it still persists and is international. Iceland recently even took the step of making it illegal to pay men more than women and vowed to eradicate unequal pay by 2022.

I read the report with interest; it is very comprehensive and drills down into many of the reasons for the difference in pay and clearly outlines the obstacles to be overcome. There is some good news in there, the gap is shortening, and awareness is rising, but at the end of it I thought ...all the surveys in the world mean nothing if we cannot all say this is wrong and put a stop to it! 

Melody Thompson

Published by Melody

over 4 years ago


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