Over the last few months the country’s been having a hard look at the way it treats women. More specifically, corporations in the UK with more than 250 employees have been reporting how much they pay women compared to men. It’s an unprecedented endeavour, so naturally the data hasn’t been perfect. The reports from each organisation reveal the median hourly pay gap across the entire company, overlooking the differences within similar positions and leaving out some of the highest and lowest earners. That said, the initial signal is clear: on average women earn 9.7 per cent less than their male colleagues.
So what can we do? BBC staff (whose gender pay gap was 9.3 per cent) have written an open letter to director general Tony Hall asking the organisation to initiate total pay transparency. If it becomes policy, every employee will be able to find out what any other employee is earning. Here at BBC Focus, this got us talking. How would we feel if we suddenly knew what everyone else was earning?
Logically speaking, salary transparency seems like the speediest route to balance pay inequality. But instinctively, it’s uncomfortable. We’re more likely to tell a stranger how many sexual partners we’ve had than reveal what we’re paid, according to a recent survey carried out by University College London. So how can we navigate this tricky route ahead? On p47 Moya Sarner takes a look at what the research reveals about pay transparency and finds out whether it really does work.
Daniel Bennett, Editor