Coun­cil re­veals gen­der pay gap

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - David Ir­win Coun­cil Cor­re­spon­dent

SOLI­HULL Coun­cil has be­come the lat­est lo­cal au­thor­ity to con­firm that its fe­male em­ploy­ees earn less than their male col­leagues.

The coun­cil has pub­lished de­tails of its gen­der pay gap, with fig­ures re­veal­ing that women’s hourly earn­ings are 18.6 per cent lower (when tak­ing a mean av­er­age), stretch­ing to 27.2 per cent when us­ing a me­dian av­er­age.

Anal­y­sis shows that the coun­cil – which has a work­force which is 75 per cent fe­male – is trail­ing pub­lic sec­tor av­er­ages for both the UK and West Mid­lands re­gion.

A re­port pre­sented to Soli­hull’s re­mu­ner­a­tion com­mit­tee this week ar­gued that its fig­ures were skewed by the fact that school cater­ing staff – a low-paid group which is al­most ex­clu­sively fe­male – are di­rect em­ploy­ees of the coun­cil. In some other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, this ser­vice is out­sourced.

Gina Dut­ton, a Soli­hull-based ac­tivist for the Women’s Equal­ity Party, said: “Coun­cils and other pub­lic bod­ies have a spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to tackle in­equal­ity in their own ranks. If they can­not set an ex­am­ple and close their gen­der pay gaps, then pri­vate com­pa­nies will take the mes- sage that this is not an is­sue of im­por­tance. It should be a top pri­or­ity for coun­cils like Soli­hull, which is the lat­est to re­veal a ma­jor pay gap, to in­ves­ti­gate why women are be­ing paid less than men, and what they need to do to re­solve the prob­lem.”

The party has called on coun­cils to re­lease fur­ther data on their parental leave, child­care and flex­i­ble work­ing poli­cies.

An­drew Baze­ley, pol­icy and in­sight man­ager at women’s rights char­ity the Fawcett So­ci­ety, said it was right that Soli­hull Coun­cil looked at the un­der­ly­ing causes of the gen­der pay gap.

“We urge all em­ploy­ers to go fur­ther to close the gap. Flex­i­ble work- ing is avail­able to some em­ploy­ees – why not make it the de­fault, in­clud­ing at the point of ad­ver­tise­ment?

“Can you jus­tify the much lower sums that are paid for some roles where the em­ploy­ees are pre­dom­i­nantly women?”

Cllr Karl Mac­naughton (Green, Chelm­s­ley Wood) said he was pleased the coun­cil was look­ing at the longer-term but that there were still is­sues to ad­dress.

He added: “On the cater­ing is­sue I can to­tally see that skews what we’re do­ing, but let’s not also for­get that part of that prob­lem is very low pay ver­sus very high pay and the re­duc­ing pro­por­tion of women – even though each quar­tile has more women then men - as you go up the scale.”

Cllr Robert Hul­land, the com­mit­tee’s chair, in­sisted there was no “glass ceil­ing” at Soli­hull Coun­cil, not­ing that half of the di­rec­tors were women and half were men.

“The data gives us an op­por­tu­nity to look in­side our or­gan­i­sa­tion and see where we are,” he said.

“The fig­ure of 18 per cent in some ways doesn’t mean a great deal in it­self, it’s how it com­pares with other or­gan­i­sa­tions in the area and also how we com­pare against our­selves in fu­ture years.

“So cer­tainly we will be look­ing for­ward to how that moves for­ward.”

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