Can you put a time stamp on equality? Apparently now you can, with UK women expecting a 58 year wait to close the pay gap with their male counterparts and French women waiting close to 1000 years. It seems that businesses are still a long way off acknowledging females as driving forces.
As of 2017, the government now requires British companies with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap data, but this will not happen in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic is already badly impacting women's careers – with women more likely to have been furloughed or have lost their job, the world is starting to wonder how much it will set back progress on pay.
Equal Pay Day falls on 2nd November and marks the date each year when women stop earning relative to their male counterparts. In the United States, where a woman’s average salary is 81% of a male’s, this date symbolises how far into the year the average woman must work to earn that of the average man.
2020 is the 50 year anniversary of the Equal Pay Act in the UK. This act meant employers were prohibited from paying women less than men for the same job. Although unequal pay is now illegal, the gender pay gap continues. This is the percentage difference of male to female salaries within the same company, not necessarily men and women in the same job with the same level of experience. The wider the pay gap, the more indicative of how many men are in senior to director level positions.
Part of the reason for the gender pay gap could be that women are more likely to take career breaks when having children or to take lower paid positions that offer more flexibility to make it easier to manage a family. However, this does not fully account for the pay gap. Neither do differences in education, experience and occupation. It also doesn’t eradicate sexism in the workplace.
Factors that are likely to impact the gender pay gap but are difficult to measure include unconscious bias and discrimination against women, including assumptions that women with children should earn less than men. A 2017 study by the Pew Research Center found that 25% of women said that they have earned less than a man doing the same job compared to just 5% of men. Women with children also make less than men with children or women without children. This is referred to as the ‘motherhood penalty’.
The research also shows that more women occupy lower paid positions than men. Although the representation of women in higher paying jobs has increased, women as a whole are still underrepresented in high paying jobs and leadership roles, especially in the C-Suite.
On a positive spin, however, Bumble has recently hired two new female C-Suiters, making their C-Suite completely male-to-female equal. They welcome in Anu Subramanian as Bumble's Chief Financial Officer and Selby Drummond as Chief Brand Officer. Bumble has always been an advocate of female empowerment in the dating world and these hires take their words to action.
So, what can be done to address the gender wage gap? A recent research report from PayScale found that when all factors are controlled, pay transparency closes the gap completely.
Why is this? Well, part of the reason for the gender wage gap is the unwillingness of many businesses to modernise their compensation practices. They still rely on traditional ways where pay is reliant on negotiation and manager discretion. The main problem with an opaque approach is that it is likely to favours men as many businesses are subject to unconscious bias.
Pay transparency is thought to counteract pay inequality because it forces businesses to mature their compensation practices and develop a data-driven approach that places more value on the job than the person. Pay transparency is also gaining popularity for reasons other than closing the gap. With digital transformation, transparency is becoming increasingly common at all levels of business. As part of a broader plan, pay transparency has also been shown to have a positive effect on job satisfaction, employee engagement and productivity.
There’s hope in the world of hiring more women into senior positions and the slowly closing gender pay gap, but it does not mean that it will be much different for the next generation. This can be changed if businesses are more transparent with their salary differences and advocate for senior hires, with less prejudice against mothers and encourage forward thinking maternity and paternity leave and needs.
Here at Osmii, we believe that a diverse team benefits businesses, hence why at every level all our shortlists sent to clients include at least one woman for every man and we stick by our 50/50 slate. This gives a fair balance to what is still an uneven footing in the tech industry.
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