What actions are employers taking to tackle the gender pay gap?

Saturday 10th November marks Equal Pay Day, according to the Fawcett Society – the day that women effectively stop earning relative to men due to the gender pay gap. This day varies slightly each year to reflect any changes in the gap.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), this year the pay gap for full-time workers has dropped from 9.1% in 2017 to 8.6% in April of 2018. The overall gender pay gap for full-time and part-time roles fell from 18.4% to 17.9% this year. Although this is a step in the right direction, many campaigners say the rate of improvement is too slow and businesses must look to rectify this as a priority.

Unfortunately, there continues to be confusion surrounding the definitions of Equal Pay and the gender pay gap. Ensuring that employees and the public as a whole have a greater awareness of the difference is important if change is to be accelerated.

Defining the gap

In our latest research, 53% of employees claimed their organisation did not have a gender pay gap, yet 8 in 10 companies reported a pay gap back in April.

The factors that create the gender pay gap are varied and complex. The gap refers to the difference in earnings between men and women on average, across all levels of employment. On the other hand, Equal Pay refers to a law originally established back in 1970, and replaced by the Equality Act 2010, that determined men and women performing equal work should receive equal pay. Confusingly, Equal Pay Day refers to the gender pay gap and not unequal pay.

This year, totaljobs research found that 40% of women would be prepared to leave their job if they discovered a male employee performing the same or equal role to them was being paid more.

What can businesses do to close the gender pay gap?

According to our research, there has been a rise when it comes to the ways businesses are actively tackling the gap, following the legislation that requires companies of 250+ employees to publish their pay gap figures.

Back in March, 11% of businesses cited that they were actively promoting female employees into leadership or senior roles. In October of 2018, 46% said they were taking this step. This jump signifies how supporting and rewarding women at work is increasingly on the agenda following gender pay reporting.

Other actions that businesses are undertaking in order to support the cause of pay equality include:

  • 33% are training staff on unconscious bias
  • 32% are improving conditions for flexibility for parents
  • 27% are reviewing salaries
  • 26% are actively hiring female candidates into leadership/senior roles
  • 19% are improving their paternity leave offering
  • 16% are improving their maternity leave offering

More businesses are also looking to engage with school students from younger ages, to highlight female role models across industries and to encourage young women to see themselves as future leaders – as currently, there are more males operating at C-suite level than women. Ethnic minority representation is even lower.
PwC’s Tech She Can Charter is one initiative which aims to raise the number of women within the technology industry, which is currently male-dominated. This is one response to multiple research pieces that show from a young age, children may be encouraged to aspire to jobs associated with gender stereotypes and generally, this means women are disproportionately represented in lower paid sectors, and men in higher paying sectors.

Across the pond, the recent news that a record number of women now sit in the US House of Representatives shows that politics is one sector that is finally seeing a shift when it comes to diversity. Hopefully this is something that can be replicated across UK industries- as long as businesses continue to push for change.

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