Just this weekend a national newspaper revealed a troubling fact. A gender pay gap at heart of our democracy. Disturbingly male MPs earn more than 10.4% more on average than their female counterparts, despite identical base salaries. When combined with the continued female chronic under-representation at the heart of our democracy this makes for a concerning, but unsurprising reading. It also raises the question, that if in this high-profile arena we are falling so far short in this aspiration, what imbalances might exist in different sectors of the economy?
In April 2017 it was revealed that men earn 18.4% more than women. There is no one clear reason for this. In part it is reflective of greater caring responsibilities being incumbent upon women. It is indicative of the disproportionate ratio of men in more senior positions in a variety of sectors (as a look at the composition of any FTSE 100 company board should quickly reveal). What should be clear is, a century after women receiving the right to vote, that this economic imbalance is no longer acceptable.
But what is pleasing, is that now more than ever we are prepared to challenge this. Under new legislation companies with more than 250 workers are now required to report on the ‘gender gap’.
Initial results are no surprise, showing the gender pay gap for full-time workers is entirely in favour of men in all occupations and overall, women’s pay grows less than men’s. Critically, it also stops growing earlier than men’s. According to the latest data, financial services and the construction sector have the largest gender pay gaps. The data also confirms 85% of companies pay women less than men.
Whilst the inequalities of gender pay gap applies to both private and public sectors, there are some sectors which defy this prevailing trend. The property and housing sector for instance has a 37.6% variance in favour for women for bonus pay.
As of early March, and a month before the April deadline five out of six UK companies have failed to submit this data. This too raises alarm bells. This exercise shouldn’t be seen as a regulatory chore, but a chance to enhance practices and change cultures which have a punitive impact on women. The results could be greater workplace productivity, development of a greater culture meritocracy and greater empowerment and autonomy for all workers.
Yet the debate is well and truly underway. There is a tangible commitment amongst women to challenge this issue and ensure that these injustices are challenged. One hundred years on from women were earning the right to vote there can be no doubt that this is the best possible tribute to all those other female pioneers that challenged the injustices of their day. We must continue this tradition and urge further accountability and transparency in all of our workplaces. Only then, can we begin to put this right.