Now you can mind the pay gap
The results are in for your company’s gender pay split – but what do you do next?
IT’S BEEN THREE LONG YEARS since Grazia’s jubilant victory in the House of Lords with our Mind the Pay Gap campaign. Alongside the Fawcett Society, Labour MPS Gloria De Piero and Sarah Champion, and flanked by actress Gemma Arterton (who starred in musical Made In
Dagenham) and the original ladies of Ford Dagenham, who went on strike for equal pay in 1968, we successfully pushed through an amendment to Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010. This change means companies with over 250 employees are legally bound to declare their male to female earning splits, and those who don’t will face hefty fines or even legal action.
This week marks the deadline for those 9,000 companies to reveal the results – so we can find out how the gender pay gap affects all of us. And with the median national average hourly wage difference currently at 18.4% (down just 0.6% in the intervening years since we started the campaign), this means there’s still a long way to go to achieve parity.
But as 15 million employees become armed with the details of how their
workplace is performing, the shift will surely pick up pace from here. Because, now we have the information, we have the tools we need to challenge it. Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, says, ‘ The influential Fawcett Society and Grazia campaign to secure gender pay gap reporting is now finally paying off. There is nowhere for large employers to hide any more. Many don’t like what they are finding. The smart companies are putting action plans in place, for example, to get more women into senior roles, or to open up flexible working and part-time work. But this is also prompting women to have those conversations about pay and break the taboo. It is only with full transparency that we can tackle the discrimination that still exists in our workplaces.’
The BBC faced criticism when they announced their gender pay gap early last autumn, despite its 9% divide being narrower than many companies. Valerie Hughes-d’aeth, the corporation’s group HR director, says the transparency – and the negative publicity it sparked – has led to a commitment to real change. ‘Pay at the BBC has been a well-publicised issue and we are determined to ensure we go further and faster than any other broadcaster in addressing any problems,’ she says. ‘ Tony Hall, the BBC’S director-general, has committed the organisation to closing the gender pay gap by 2020, setting out a range of measures to help us achieve the target.’
Although the 1970 Equal Pay Act means it is illegal to pay people differently for the same role, there are still differences in the types of jobs men and women hold, which results in the drift between their pay. Many women also opt for more flexible – and therefore often less skilled – positions. Karen Mattison, joint CEO of Timewise, which works to unlock the flexible jobs market in the UK, says: ‘ There is a direct correlation between the narrowing out of opportunities to work part-time or flexibly up the talent pipeline, and the thinning out of women in more senior roles.’ Therefore, one of the ways to solve the gender pay divide is to create roles that can be done flexibly up to top-level positions. ‘UK businesses are now presented with a chance to drive change. The introduction of flexible working can make a real difference to an organisation’s ability to close the gap and benefits all, not least the women who may need to work flexibly, allowing them to continue progressing up the career ladder.’
Some outstanding organisations have been unveiled in the process, and we hope others will follow their example. Women at media company Endemol Shine discovered they work in the utopia of a negative pay gap, where female employees earn 4% more than their male counterparts. Bella Lambourne, their HR and operations director, says, ‘ We have an almost 50:50 gender balance in senior roles within the group and have worked hard to ensure that people are being rewarded fairly for the work they do.’
Unfortunately, the results released so far show that, on average, we still earn just shy of 82p on a man’s pound. Which means there is still a lot of work to be done. But now we have knowledge, hopefully we also have power.
Gloria De Piero backed the 2014 Grazia campaign