"Gender still matters: women consider gender pay equality to be a more important issue than men do."
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Whatever way you measure it – by hour, job or worker or by total pay for all women – women earn less than men. In fact, despite the Equal Pay Act in 1970, women still earn just 81p of every pound earned by men. Equal Pay Day signifies the last day in the year that women get paid to work because of the gender pay gap.
Yet our study – of employees from 117 workplaces – shows that 75% of females in the workplace consider gender pay equality to be a major workplace concern compared to just 53% of men.
Not only this but ‘zero tolerance of discrimination’ was deemed more important to 62% of women compared to 46% of men. Perhaps because women are more used to being discriminated against for their gender, they are therefore more sensitive to other discriminatory issues in the workplace too.
Gender equality in the workplace
The gender pay gap is not just a women’s issue.
Gender pay gap equality and discrimination in the workplace is not just a women’s issue. The whole of society would benefit from a workforce that draws on the talents of the whole population.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has shown that if we used the true potential of women, the global economy could grow by an extra 12% by 2030.
Many fathers today would agree that parental responsibility is, or should be, 50/50 in the home, yet women are still more likely to sacrifice career opportunities for their family – perhaps often due to earning less.
The cost of childcare is also an ongoing issue that impacts the pay gap. Many parents choose to spend time at home with their children, but the Labour Force Survey shows that around 600,000 parents at home would prefer to be working if they could afford to do so.
Workplace inequalities continue to be replicated because men and women are still being evaluated on the basis of gender stereotyping and gender roles. While fathers are free to work longer hours, women are expected to make ‘hard choices’ and this might influence their work schedule. In turn, this can lead to women (whether they are a mother or not) facing stereotypes of being less committed to work and undervalued in their performance.
A culture of secrecy around discussing pay allows the pay gap to thrive
There is concrete evidence to prove that the gender pay gap exists, yet in our survey men are not acknowledging it as a major issue.
However, when the prospect of promotion is added to the equation, the gap between men and women narrows, as 67% of men consider equal promotional opportunities a highly important issue in comparison to 61% of women.
The statistics above suggest that despite a focus from government and big corporations such as the BBC on improving the gender pay gap – there is still a long way to go in changing public perceptions of gender equality and discrimination in the workplace.
Unfortunately, despite the evidence, whether there is a pay gap or not is still a question some people are asking. A report by the Fawcett Society found that only one in three employees know that it is illegal to pay women less than men in the same job. A culture of pay secrecy in the workplace, encouraged by HR teams, allows this discrimination to thrive. So with the men questioned in our survey, differences in pay, in general, is not an issue for them due to pay secrecy – yet when it comes to equal promotion opportunities, 67% of men understood this to be important.
Of those surveyed who don’t feel their employer is inclusive, over half (52%) felt that gender balance and disability inclusion were areas that needed the most improvement. Age was also a concern with 45% of the respondents seeing a need for greater diversity of age ranges in the workplace.
In fact, when gender and age are examined together, the pay gap widens for women as they get older and women can experience a ‘dual discrimination’ – being penalised for both age and gender, rather than solely because they are women:
The results also show that over half (55%) of UK employees feel disability inclusion is the top aspect of diversity their company could improve upon. There are around 7 million people of working age in the UK classified as disabled or have an ongoing health condition according to the government. Scope, the disability equality charity say that of that 7 million, just under half (3.4 million) are in employment and were there to be just a 10% rise in disability employment, the Exchequer would receive and extra £12 billion by 2030.
Why aren’t more companies hiring people with disabilities?
Recently broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and government ministers have committed to doubling the number of disabled people involved in television by 2020 to make the industry more inclusive. There is still a long way to go before broadcasters represent their diverse audience. Employees in all industries are now noticing that the companies they work for could do much more.
Our survey certainly backs this up and according to official statistics from the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS), disability discrimination queries make up around 62% of all equality-based enquiries.
The results below show that lower ranking and middle management level employees, on the whole, are less likely to think their workplace is inclusive.
These results suggest the perception of a glass ceiling that is preventing these employees from moving through to director and c-suite level. It also suggests that the younger generation are potentially more aware of workplace discrimination and see it differently to the generation before them, naturally seeing value in trying to integrate minority groups into a team.
The results below show that although there were some notable splits between the genders on their priorities, the top 3 selections by a long way are:
- Equal promotional opportunities
- Equal pay for equal jobs
- Zero tolerance of discriminatory behaviour
What does this suggest?
‘Zero tolerance of discriminatory behaviour’ and ‘diverse teams/working groups’ saw the biggest movements between people who currently work in an inclusive working environment and those who do not.
This highlights that these are two areas companies need to better improve for their employees to feel included at work.
Companies are making steady progress in the realms of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, with results showing that over three-quarters of the workforce already consider their organisation to be a diverse and inclusive place to work.
Businesses are now realizing that being diverse and inclusive has a tangible impact on the company’s bottom line:
- Driving economic growth
- Cultivating a more qualified workforce
- Resulting in happier employees to increase engagement and productivity
- Attracting top talent
- A better understanding of their customer base
- A larger share of the consumer market
All this leads to diversity and inclusion forging a sustainable future for businesses and a competitive economy in a globalized world. However, as the gender differences in our survey reveal – we still have a long way to go, due to the secrecy around how employees are treated differently.
With regards to the findings, Catherine Mayer, Co-Founder of the Women’s Equality Party states:
‘It’s not enough for businesses to report the gap, they need to do much to address it. A lot of this is around transparency. The Women’s Equality Party calls for organisations with a pay gap greater than 5% to be required to publish their recruitment, retention and promotion rates of women compared to men.
This would help the organisations, including the men in them, to understand the realities, mechanisms and impacts behind that gap. And reporting requirements should move to smaller companies (with over 50 employees). In addition I’m in favour of increasing transparency not just around aggregate figures but actual salaries. It was the publication of the salary bands of the BBC’s top earners that really galvanised the debate.’