Publishing the Gender Pay Gap

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This April saw the start of a census like no other before. In a new order by the government, employers with over 250 employees are now legally required to publish their pay gap data. Although it’s unclear what the consequences of the numbers will be, it’s hoped that bringing the percentages to light will shame the company’s into change.

Long been a debate which has caused rifts even among the closest of friends, the gender pay gap is a tricky idea to wrap your head around. Often misunderstood to be whether companies are paying people in the same role different wages, the percentages actually cover a wide range of varying factors, not least how many women are in higher-level positions. A statistic worrying enough on its own, when there are just five female CEO’s in FTSE 100 companies.

With the deadline for statistics being next April, there are a number of big companies who’ve already bitten the bullet and posted their data. Fund manager Schroders, were the first of the FTSE big dogs to go public with an average gap of 33%, whilst Virgin Money overtook them with 36% at the beginning of June.

Determined to use the results to improve the company, to a 50:50 split by 2020, Virgin Money are utilising the legislation in the manner it was intended. Looking into how to make consumer services more appealing to men, employing a maternity mentoring system and conceiving an app which will help women keep in contact when on leave, Director Matt Elliot says “I don’t think we’d have been looking at this without the pay gap work.”

There are worries however that other companies won’t be so diplomatic. Josephine Van Lierop, an employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, voiced her concerns, saying “we expect big-budget organisations to be hiring pay consultants to identify and manipulate the numbers.” This kind of behaviour however ignores the fundamental problems behind the pay gap, which leave thousands of people dissatisfied with their jobs every day.

Just one of the many reasons put forward for the pay gap between men and women, the break to have children leaves women struggling to keep up on the career ladder. With the gap leaping up by 12% for those of child-bearing age, archaic maternity and paternity rules which give mums more paid time at home than their partners, mean that regardless of who would rather be home cleaning diapers, financially, ‘stay-at-home mum’ makes more sense. Such an easy way to close our own pay gaps within the office, offering both parents the same amount of paid leave would leave the choices back in our employee’s hands. (Read what women have to say about the ‘motherhood pay gap’ here)

Setting up the Women in Finance Charter in coalition with the Government, the financial services sector is attempting to counteract the imbalance in pay. Despite the fact that they’re supposed to be money savvy, in the past businesses including big banks and investors have struggled to keep up in the equal pay race. However facing up to the average pay gap of 34%, they’re also taking some of the biggest strides to bridge it.

The Financial Times recently questioned why despite women making up the majority of junior-level roles in finance, they still occupy a minority of senior positions. With women outnumbering men in two thirds of degree subjects, this isn’t a question of education levels and whilst we all think we’re targeting gender inequality through diversity schemes, the numbers speak for themselves.

These numbers were the driving force behind the Women in Finance Charter published in 2016. With 60 firms committing to having at least 30% of women in senior positions by 2021, hopes for the future are high, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying of the charter, “The UK is a world-leader in financial services, but the sector could do even better if it made the most of many talented women who work in finance.”