Gender Pay Gap Reporting
If you didn’t already know, by April all employers with 250 or more employees will be legally required to publish how large the pay gap is between their male and female staff.
Many companies have done this already. The extent of the gap for some employers has been staggering. For example, the difference in average hourly pay at EasyJet is 51.7% lower for women, and at the Co-op it is 30.3%. At clothing brand Phase Eight it is 64.8% lower and at NPower it is 19%.
However, before you start boycotting shops and airlines, stop watching certain TV channels or close your bank accounts, it is important not to take the values at face value. Having a pay gap is not the same as having unequal pay between men and women. There is a crucial distinction between the two that I suspect will be easily forgotten.
Gender Pay v Equal Pay
Equal pay for work of equal value is covered by the Equalities Act 2010 and sets out that a man and a woman should not be paid differently because of their sex. Gender Pay Gap Reporting (Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017) on the other hand looks at the pay difference between all men and all women within a company as a whole, regardless of what role they carry out.
A company could have equal pay across every single individual role (which would be great) but if all their directors are men and their customer-facing staff are women, there will naturally be a significant gender pay gap. Easyjet, for example, explains that out of their pilots only 86 of them are female compared to 1407 males. If such a small proportion of females fill their highest paid jobs, their pay gap will obviously be large even if all their pilots are paid exactly the same.
For me, the gender pay gap reporting then shines a light on a much bigger issue of opportunity rather than pay. How are women recruited or promoted into the higher paid roles? What stops them reaching the highest level within an organisation? If women have families, how are they being supported so they can continue to work? What family-friendly policies are in place?
When providing the gender pay figures, employers will also have the opportunity to provide answers to questions such as these in the form of a written statement. They can use the statement to explain any gap and try to put their figures into context. I strongly recommend anyone interested in this to have a good read rather than take figures on face value – you’ll soon find out how seriously companies are taking it and what they are planning on doing.
So what about my kids?
Ah yes them. As the name suggests, I have three – two boys and a girl. We try to be as gender neutral as possible but unfortunately our society has better ideas. You just need to look at adverts on TV and the shelves in toyshops – pink pretty toys, hair accessories and dolls for girls; blue noisy cars, construction sets and tools for boys. These stereotypes have extended to the workplace, but this spans generations – whilst men can be pilots, women can only be cabin crew, men can be directors, women can be secretaries, men can be builders, women can be shop assistants.
It is incomprehensible that my daughter not only grows up to earn less money than her brothers but also has opportunities closed off to her simply because she happens to be female. What parent can honestly face their children and say that this is ok?
Equality is a battle that needs to won and although gender pay gap reporting isn’t going to change much in its first year, it will raise questions, uncomfortable questions for many. The risk to employer reputation is so potentially huge (just ask the BBC) that only foolish employers would do nothing.
So although gender pay gap reporting may be a step in the right direction, I just hope there will be enough of these steps by the time my children get their first jobs.