Just to put things in perspective; the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970, 45 years ago. We are in 2015 where you can drive an electric car – hell, the cars can even drive themselves! Contact lenses not only aid our eyesight, but can monitor our health and virtual reality is finally here, for real. We have come unbelievably far in the last 45 years in some ways, yet in others we have made next to no progress at all, but to set the tone for the rest of this article, data from UK based reward management consultancy firm Paydata tells us that on average, women earn £100 less a week than men.
The Gender Pay Gap has been a concerning issue since the 1960’s, although it has narrowed somewhat since then thanks to changes in the education system, it doesn’t seem to have moved at all within the last decade, however factors such as time out to raise a family also still contribute to 16% of the overall issue, a shocking 36% of the problem is thought to be purely down to discrimination. The Gender Pay Gap is NOT exactly the same as equal pay, although in many SMEs this is a far bigger issue than many realise. The Gender Pay Gap details the difference in median wages between men and women and the way that women they are able to rise up through a business, reaching the dizzying heights of board level (Paydata also points out that the lack of opportunity to rise through the ranks actually begs the questions whether there is a ‘glass ceiling’ for women rather than pay gap).
It is reported that women make up 67% of entry level jobs, 29% of directors, and only 16% of FTSE 250 board positions. This figure only gets smaller as you look in the direction of some of the world’s largest corporations with only 5% of women sit on the boards.
Fortune reported that millennial women think the Gender Pay Gap is a myth – but I sincerely hope that this is down to the fact that they are working for a young and forward thinking company that are standing by their values rather than being ignorant to the fact that unfortunately, the gap does exist, and significantly widens as women get older. The very stance that they don’t believe it exists is incredibly encouraging as it would seem they believe they are being paid fairly; in fact between the ages of 26-35 the Gender Pay Gap is just 6%, with this being the age range that is occupied by millennials it is a positive sign that they may be the generation to abolish the draconian regime that has reigned over this issue altogether.
The infamous Katie Hopkins also claims that the Gender Pay Gap doesn’t exist, but Katie Hopkins has also sided with Donald Trump and said that she wouldn’t hire a woman because she doesn’t want to pay out for maternity leave – so let’s just discount her opinion entirely. On the other hand, United Nations have stated that the gender pay gap will not close for another 70 years unless substantial changes are made now.
It would seem that the gap increases as women get older, within the ages of 46-60 the gap widens to 35%; for those over 60 it widens further to 38%. I dare say that those within this age gap are working for SMEs that are largely run by the ‘old boy’s network’, or large corporations that have been able to successfully keep the gap within their organisations quiet, with no need to be addressed.
Enter into the realms of working for a business ran by ‘the old boys club’; an informal network where successful businessmen influence and accommodate each other’s, often outdated policies. Boss of Virgin Money, Jayne –Anne Gadhia believes that ‘the old boys network’ is one of the reasons the gap exists, “This is about women from the very beginning of their careers… This is about creating an environment where all women can become senior if that is want they want to do. I’m trying to have a level playing field for everybody.”
With that in mind, David Cameron announced earlier this year that large corporations will be required to declare the difference on the positions and average earnings held for men and women within the business, in a bid to make the spotlight work to close the gap due to the transparent nature it will impose, making them vulnerable to an avalanche of criticism and negative PR due to the release of sensitive information, forcing them to act. Businesses with over 250 employees will be expected to produce a report every 12 months detailing the differences between the roles and wages within the company. Further Paydata statistics suggest that the new legislation will shake up all industries dramatically as currently only 52% of organisations measure the gaps in gender pay and of these only 23% publish internally – no-one currently publishes this information externally.
When you look beyond the facts and figures associated with the Gender Pay Gap and look at the human element; once these gaps are made public there is undoubtedly going to be a reaction from employees. To learn that you are earning less than male counterparts is demotivating and a blow to the confidence which will result in a decrease in staff engagement, productivity and profits. It is a well-known fact that happy and content staff are hardworking and efficient, making it nothing but bad business sense to ignore the wage gap and hope that your business will be able to hide indefinitely. With more and more young savvy start-ups looking up to tech giants renowned for high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction, such as Google and Netflix for inspiration and guidance, it seems as if there may be a light at the end of the tunnel which will mean that the Gender Pay Gap is attacked from 2 angles, closing it completely and smashing the glass ceiling along the way.