Equal Pay Day which highlights the disparity in pay between men and women. Today represents the time in the year when women will effectively stop earning, in comparison to their male counterparts. Among many digital and in person campaigns, staff at the popular Stylist Magazine will be leaving work 18% earlier, which according to their research, represents the combined pay gap of full and part time work. This echoes the protest that took place in Iceland last month, which saw women leave work 14% earlier in the day.
So with increasing protests taking place, what does this mean for businesses?
The gender pay issue has moved beyond statistics. We know the figures which detail that women in PR are paid nearly £8,500 less than men, that £150 billion could be added to the UK economy if we closed then pay gap. However, the age of comment and calls for change has evolved as the issue has increasingly reached the national stage.
This resulted in the Government announcing their own plans to implement to Mandatory Gender Pay Gap Reporting, due to come into force in April 2018. This will require companies with 250+ employees to publish gender pay by mean, media and bonus pay starting in 2018. Not only does this not cover 99% of all small businesses, but it comes without financial or other civil penalty for those who refuse to publish. A step in the right direction, but without the necessary progress.
Beyond maternity pay and part-time work there are various factors lead to this disparity in pay such as company culture, intimidation, lack of career training, unconscious bias, lack of sponsorship opportunities etc… Yet we are no clearer on the very reasons why the gap not only persists, but widens by 13-23% over a woman’s career. Unfortunately, as we have been keeping track of statistics since the Equal Pay Act, it is unlikely that reporting will change this.
These subtle and nuanced set of issues require long term strategy to affect mind-sets and the decision making mechanisms within business.
A broader conversation needs to be had and employers need to take note. Reviewing existing internal policies, robust training, improving company culture, and introduction of healthy sponsorship ladder can all go towards a long term strategy to address the issue on the ground.
This is not only a conversation for CEOs to start, but one for staff and managers to address and implement in every level of a business. If not, we may end up with another 40 years without significant changes in gender pay.
To continue to affect the debate and create change this campaign needs to be combined with employer sponsorship. A concerted and co-ordinated effort from business is required to address this crucial issue which they cannot afford to approach on the back foot.
To find out more about the CIPR Qualitative Research Project on gender pay, visit the website.
Image courtesy of flickr user Thomas Leuthard