Closing the Gender Pay Gap

Women are working for free from the 9th November until January according to the Trade Union Congress (TUC.) The top 5% of earners have a gap in annual salaries between full time working male and females of 45.9% and the top 2% reaches 54.9%. The top 2% male earners bring in more than £117, 352 a year while woman get £75,745.

These statistics are shameful and unacceptable. Each year Equal Pay Day marks the point at which woman working full time effectively stop earning (9th November) as they are paid on average 14.2% less an hour than men working full time.

Where does the UK stand in the global rankings for equal pay? According to the World Economic Forum, it falls below countries including Nicaragua, Bulgaria and Burundi by economic, political and educational standards. The UK hit a low of 26 in the 2014 Global Gender Gap Report. Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said:

“It feels like the glass ceiling is getting stronger, not weaker, and we need a much tougher approach to stop future generations of women from suffering this pay penalty.”

“It is shocking the UK still has such a large gender pay gap 45 years after the Equal Pay Act and I would urge all women concerned about their pay to join their union, to get their voice heard and their interests represented at work.”

Critics suggest that factors like women’s career paths and career breaks for childbirth distort the figures; currently, almost half of women professionals who take up part-time employment upon having children move into low skilled jobs.

The Fawcett Society (an organisation in the UK that campaigns for women’s rights) argued that jobs traditionally done by women, such as cleaning, catering and caring, are paid less and undervalued in comparison to jobs traditionally done by men, such as construction, transportation and manually skilled trades. Men continue to make up the majority of those in the highest paid and most senior role.

Following a campaign by Fawcett and Grazia, the government are going to require larger organisations (250 or more employees) to publish their gender pay differences, coming in to force in 2016. This is one step closer to closing the gap, showing people that there is a serious gap and that something has to be done.

What can you do? It is ok to talk about what you earn, ask your male and female colleagues. Ask your employer if they know about the new regulations which are due to come in to force next year and whether they are ready to implement this change. Are you an employer? Support women to progress to higher paid jobs. Tackle unconscious bias and use targets. Over 60% of those earning less than the living wage are women – become a living wage employer.

We CAN get there; we CAN close the gap.

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