Gender pay gap – comments from the community part two

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Here are more comments from the community following the announcement of the PM’s plan to close the gender pay gap.

Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of a consultation on designing new gender pay gap regulations.  She says:

“Transparency is the most powerful driver we have for achieving change and this legislation will be good news for women and business alike. It will mean there’s no hiding place for employers who don’t pay women fairly.

“But businesses should report on more than just average pay rates. Given that the gender pay gap is widest at the top, it is vital that companies track pay across different job levels.

“And, of course, the pay gap isn’t the only problem facing women at work, as the lack of women in senior roles is still a huge problem. While we embrace this push for transparency, employers must focus on three things to galvanise wider cultural change when it comes to diversity – data, recruitment and culture. 

“These measures will help unblock the talent pipeline and deliver real diversity across the next generation of managers and leaders.”

Katja Hall, CBI deputy director-general, says:

“Lord Davies’ successful voluntary approach demonstrates the value of encouragement as opposed to using the law.

“Businesses recognise the value of having a diverse board that reflects society and their customers. That is why we have reached this important milestone on time.

“But we must not let our guard drop. Progress has relied on making sure new appointments are diverse, and this must continue as women appointed since the Davies report begin to end their terms on boards and replacements are sought.

“Addressing the gender pay gap is the right priority – and we should set a target for reducing it. While we believe publishing pay gap data could be misleading, we will work with the Government to ensure that rules on what is published are flexible enough to be relevant to each company.

“To see real progress, however, we need to challenge occupational stereotypes by encouraging more women into male dominated industries and investing in careers advice.”

Sarah Burke, employment specialist solicitor at Thomas Eggar LLP:

“Consultation will need to take place to discuss exactly how this will happen in practice and no decisions have yet been made on how companies should report data.  This does at first glance suggest a positive move towards further ensuring equality amongst staff in the workplace.  However, the devil is (as always) in the detail and so we will need to see exactly what obligations larger businesses will have in disclosing information about pay to properly assess the impact of this plan. Too general or vague information (such as average pay data for male and female staff employed by the business as a whole) may not actually move us much further and such information is unlikely to help in establishing whether staff are being paid the same amounts for the same work.  

“While the Government’s proposals to push ahead with this plan are a step in the right direction, we should also continue to look at what else can be done to ensure equality amongst the workforce.  For instance continuing to encourage more female senior appointments and the sharing of family related leave (under the new shared parental leave rules) may have a much better practical impact rather than simply tying businesses up in red tape in relation to general data reports.”

Shainaz Firfiray, an Assistant Professor of Organisation and Human Resource Management at Warwick Business School, researches work-life balance. She says:

“While the Government’s plan to require large firms to publish the average pay of male and female employees is a welcome move, disclosure of pay is unlikely to prove effective in closing the gender pay gap in the absence of specific procedures that tackle gender pay inequalities.

“The existing performance-oriented cultures within most contemporary workplaces further undermine the ability of females with more domestic responsibilities to compete on a level-playing field while attaining a healthy work-life balance. Thus, it is imperative that firms place more emphasis on improving the status of females in the workplace through the promotion of more flexible forms of working that enable them to balance the responsibilities of work and family lives and enable them to reach their true potential.

“While higher educational attainment has provided access to better paid jobs for some women, it has not resulted in a reduction in the gender pay gap as much as one might have expected.

“In fact, a recent ILO study suggests that while the gender pay gap at lower earnings levels has started to narrow, it has increased in higher-level positions implying that the inclusion of more women in professional and higher paid jobs has not translated into more equal treatment in terms of pay.

“Typically, the gender pay gap has been attributed to factors including the undervaluation of women’s work, social norms that reinforce perceptions about female economic dependence, women’s lower investment in human capital, and women’s preference for lower commitment jobs that will allow them to combine work and family responsibilities.

Missed part one, read it here.

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