More than 500 firms have now revealed their figures on the gender pay gap, with some major companies having a large pay gap in favour of men.
On average, women earn 15% less per hour than men at Ladbrokes, 33% less at Virgin Money, and a huge 52% less at EasyJet.
The BBC’s figures revealed in October showed that men earn an average of 10.7% more than women at the corporation. One of the most senior journalists at the BBC, Carrie Gracie, has resigned in protest, accusing it of a “secretive and illegal” pay culture.
The gender pay gap has largely been explained by the discrepancy between the number of men and women in senior roles at companies.
This is reflected by the firm with the biggest gender pay gap, women’s fashion chain Phase Eight. Their chief executive, Benjamin Barnett said the 64.8% lower mean hourly rate for female staff did not reflect the “true story” of the business, as most male employees worked in head office roles rather than in shops.
39 of Phase Eight’s 44 male employees worked in the corporate head office, where pay tends to be higher.
Any company with 250 or more employees must disclose their pay gap before the government’s deadline of 4th April 2018.
Although the figures are startling, it should be noted that the gender pay gap is not the same as equal pay. The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to pay men and women different amounts for doing ‘like work’, ‘work of equal value’, or work rated as equivalent’ unless there is a ‘genuine material factor’ for the difference.
What can businesses do about the gender pay gap?
The first thing an employer can do is make sure they’re adhering to the Equality Act 2010 by paying employees the same rate if doing the same job.
Opportunities to progress within the company should also be made available to everyone. As with any other job advertisement, care should be taken to ensure that the way it is advertised or worded doesn’t exclude anyone of a certain gender, sex, age, or with a disability.
Promoting flexible working will also promote equality, so people with family or caring responsibilities aren’t at a disadvantage by being out of work for an extended time. Working from home, part-time hours and job share opportunities are viable options to allow employees to keep working whilst dealing with other commitments, should they wish to do so.
It’s important for employers to avoid a ‘presenteeism’ culture – thinking that employees are only working when actually visible at work. Many employers still have concerns around flexible working, often citing concerns around productivity and lack of visibility in the workplace. This can result in a culture where flexible working requests are not encouraged, promotion chances are affected and may result in difficulty in attracting or retaining key talent.
Investing in employees by developing skills and engagement will also help eliminate barriers to promotion, and retain talented employees of either sex.