How businesses can address and challenge the gender pay gap

BBC pay row highlights huge pay divides

Earlier this week the BBC released the salaries of its top paid staff, after pressure from the government, highlighting a huge gender pay divide. 

Chris Evans is the highest paid male star earning between £2.2m and £2.25m, while the highest paid female star Claudia Winkleman earns between £450,000 and £499,000, almost £1.75m less.

Of the 96 top earners only a third are women and the top 7 earners are all men.

The issue of gender inequality when it comes to pay is not confined to the BBC, on average men in Britain take home 18 per cent more per hour than their female counter parts according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

10th November 2016 was Equal Pay Day, the day in the year when women effectively stop being paid, while men continue earning.

It was a day later that the previous year, showing a 0.2 per cent decrease in the gap in salaries between full-timeemployed men and women, showing the sluggish rate at which the gap is closing.

In 2018 new legislation will require large employers to report on their gender pay gaps, companies with over 250 staff members will need to be more transparent and report their gender pay gap by April 2018.

It could mean that more than 8,000 businesses across the UK might currently be unprepared to meet their legal duties as women fight for their right to equal pay.

The Guardian reported last year that “Birmingham council alone faces total costs of £1.2bn to settle its case with female staff while Reading has now won the dubious title of the last local authority in England and Wales to settle an equal pay claim, keeping women waiting for seven years.”

This is not only a public sector issue the report said, “The £100m legal battle between supermarket chain Asda and its shop floor staff shows that the private sector also faces equal value claims.”

The furore surround the BBC salaries has left some women working for the broadcaster ‘furious’ and it has been reported that at least 10 female presenters, lead by Radio 4 Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey, are preparing to sue the corporation.

The Fawcett Society, the UK’s leading charity for women’s equality and rights at home, at work and in public life, suggest businesses can address and challenge the gender pay gap by using the following steps:

  • Talk about your salaries with your colleagues, and whether they know about new regulations being implemented next year, and if they are ready to implement this change
  • Contact your MP and enquire about what they will be doing to close the gender pay gap
  • Advertise jobs at all levels in your organisation as flexible, part-time or a job share, unless there is a strong business case not to
  • Support women to progress to higher paid jobs. Tackle unconscious bias and use targets or quotas to measure progress and focus minds
  • If you haven’t already, be sure to start curating your pay information today to avoid the implications of not complying with the legislation – contribute to gender equality in the workplace.

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