POSTED: July 24 2017
Gender pay: Who really wins in an unequal society?

Gender pay: Who really wins in an unequal society?

The recent BBC pay revelations have sent employers, employees and the public in general into a spin. In an age where we’re all too keen to toot our own horns over equality and neutrality in the workplace, it seems that many industries can’t even get the basics, like pay, right.

We’re in a strange limbo, where sci-fi TV shows like Doctor Who have a more diverse outlook than real-life companies. The gender pay gap is no new issue – it’s something that’s been bubbling away under the surface, growing momentum and garnering speed until it’s finally burst forth in an angry media storm. Gary Lineker, who was reportedly paid between £1.75 and £1.8 million last year, courted controversy thanks to his agent Jon Holmes. Holmes allegedly defended the pay gap, suggesting that women chose to use female agents who are “not as tough” – and therefore cannot negotiate a better salary.

And whilst we’re now well versed in the inequalities prevalent in the media industry, it’s time to look at how this problem affects other sectors.

According to the Office for National Statistics, last year the gender pay gap was 18.1% for all employees, on average. However, in sectors such as finance and construction the gap is considerably larger (36% and 45% respectively).

As of December 2016, medical practitioners, CEOs and salespeople were amongst the top ten jobs with the most disparaging gender pay gap. Following this, we see social scientists, engineers and estate agents, each with a gap above 18%. Industries such as nursing, teaching and hospitality seem to be the fairest with their salaries, each reporting a 0% pay gap in 2016.

The push to publish pay figures comes after a policy, created by the Conservative party, came into action on 6 April and applies to around 9,000 employers. However, Maria Miller, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee and MP for Basingstoke, believes that gender pay gap reporting isn’t enough to close the gap.

“The Government says there is no place for a gender pay gap in modern Britain and has restated its pledge to end the pay gap within a generation,” she said. “But without effectively tackling the key issues of flexible working, sharing unpaid caring responsibilities, and supporting women aged over 40 back into the workforce, the gender pay gap will not be eliminated.”

And yet, the desire for openness is still an issue close to many workers’ hearts. A recent report from the CIPD found that 72% of employees would like to see more pay transparency within their organisations. Over half of employees (53%) would like to see greater pay transparency at all levels. Furthermore, 60% agree that CEO pay levels in the UK demotivate employees.

The economic benefits of publishing the gender pay gap are immense – with Minister for Women and Equalities, Justine Greening, noting that helping women reach their full career potential “isn’t only the right thing to do, it makes good economic sense and is good for British business”. With this in mind, businesses shouldn’t let the BBC drama deter them from publishing their own figures, but rather we should be looking at this as an opportunity and not a threat.


This article was originally published in HR Grapevine. You can view the original article here.