The issue of the gender pay gap between men and women shows no sign of going away, with it appearing in the news once again.
According to the latest government figures, the majority of medium and large companies pay higher wage rates to men than to women.
The government data showed that 74% of firms pay higher rates to their male staff, with only 15% paying more to women.
The gender pay gap shouldn’t be confused with equal pay. The latter requires workers of both sexes to be paid the same for ‘like work’ – not doing so is illegal.
However, in a company that has a large gender pay gap, it could be that men are far more likely to be promoted and progress to senior positions than women, so would on average be paid more.
Although that’s not illegal in itself, it could be an indication of discrimination within the organisation.
What causes the gender pay gap?
Women generally play a greater role in caring for children or for elderly relatives. As a result, they work fewer hours, are paid less and have fewer opportunities to progress in their careers.
Even exercising a right such as taking maternity leave can create an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality. An employer who places greater emphasis on presenteeism rather than actual performance may prefer to promote someone who’s been visible in the office, rather than the person who’d actually be best for the role.
The number of hours women work is a major reason behind the gender pay gap. According to the Office of National Statistics, there are more than three times as many women working part-time than men, and part-time jobs tend to be lower paid.
Women are also still more likely to be in low paid, low skilled jobs in sectors such as care and leisure, and have administrative and secretarial jobs. Men hugely outnumber women in skilled trades.
How can I close the gender pay gap in my business?
It’s beneficial for an organisation to have a diverse workforce. Not only does it allow for different viewpoints and solutions to business challenges, but it also improves the image of the company. You’ll also retain your top talent, regardless of gender.
First, you should calculate your gender pay gap information. If you have more than 250 employees, you’ll also have to report your gap to the government by 4th April 2018. Then, you can identify where changes need to take place.
Here are some tips for a more equal workplace:
Pay people the same – if an employee is being paid less for ‘like work’ than another, then immediately raise their wage.
Break the glass ceiling – if there is a discrepancy between the number of men and women in senior positions, work towards creating a greater balance. Set quotas and a timeline for making it happen.
Recruitment – use non-gender specific language in job advertisements. Make sure the adverts are easily able to be found by diverse range of candidates.
Workplace culture – consider whether your organisation has a culture of long or unsociable hours. Would this be a setback to employees who have families to look after?
Embrace flexible working – women are more likely to work part-time. Allow all employees to work flexibly, and judge them on their output rather than whether they’re visible in the office or not.
Deminos can help
Deminos can advise on how to create a fair, equal workplace where everyone has the same opportunities. For more information, call 020 7870 1090.