What is Gender Pay Parity?

Pay parity is a situation where equal numbers of men and women are represented at each level of pay throughout the organization. Pay equity refers to equal pay for the work of equal value. This is an ideal situation. But unfortunately, the gender pay gap, today, has become a global challenge created by issues affecting pay equity and pay parity.

The gender pay gap is the average hourly wage difference between men and women.

Some stats pertaining to the UK

In the beginning of the current financial year, many British companies published their gender pay gap data for the last year. It was found that men are considerably paid more than women. A staggering percentage (78%) of the biggest companies in Britain reportedly are paying men more than women.

The Irish Times has published a study by the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The HEA has found that the pay gap between males and females begins from the first year itself after they graduate. Men, on average, are likely to earn €14 a week more than women within a year of graduating. After college, this figure can grow up to €130 a week.

The Equal Pay Act

The Equal Pay Act 1970 was enacted to prevent any kind of discrimination with respect to terms and conditions of employment between men and women.

Despite this act in place, pay disparity is still prevalent.

Reasons identified behind Gender Pay Gap

Is any kind of discrimination reason for Pay gap?

The causes of the gender pay gap can vary among companies. Some organizations may have a number of part-time female employees, and some may have fewer women in senior or more high-earning designations. It is important to consider these factors as it is not necessary that women are unlawfully discriminated at the workplace.

Some experts believe that the education system in the UK also influences gender norms. Women often do not negotiate on the salary that is being offered to them while applying for their first role. Societal pressure can be a reason behind this. Many women still feel overwhelmed by being offered a job, and in many cases, they do not think there is a need to ask for more money. This further hampers their chances of getting a higher pay when they try to switch from one job to the other.

Motherhood is sighted as another reason behind the pay gap. Taking care of a new-born child plays a big role in women settling for part-time job opportunities. This, by default, results in lesser salaries as compared to salaries paid to full-time male counterparts. Many mothers also limit their chances of getting into high-paying firms as they prefer working at a place closer to their homes.

Why is the gender pay gap being talked about now?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has concluded that it will take more than 200 years to close the gender pay gap. This has kind of triggered an urgency to find an appropriate solution for the overall issue of the pay gap.

The UK government enacted the Equal Pay Act in 1970. The current pay gap statistics mentioned above is an indication enough to understand where we stand after almost 50 years of this act. Closing this gap has become a crucial agenda.

The changes enforced to the Equal Pay Act in April 2017 is another reason why the gender pay gap is being discussed more seriously now. These changes make it mandatory for companies with more than 250 employees to publicly disclose their gender pay gap figures by the end of the financial year. It is expected that publishing such data will enforce the companies to empower their female employees and press for better pay equity.

Steps taken towards closing the pay gap

A small portion of the figures published by British companies earlier this year had some really promising data. In some workplaces, the pay gap was found to be really small, while some even reported more pay to the women than men. These included some prominent companies like British Museum, Unilever UK, Ocado, UK Mail, Europcar, Cashino Gaming, Evans Cycles, and Biffa.

Closer analysis has revealed the steps taken by these firms, which included:

  • Keeping a better balance in the number of male and female employees in senior roles
  • Gender-balanced candidate pools (for every role) and interview panels, Unbiased training for all, transparent internal recruitment process
  • Discouraging institutional bias in terms of gender
  • Shared parental leave and promoting flexible working for both men and women
  • Zero discrimination based on gender while promoting internal employees

Final word

This is perhaps the best time to tackle the issue of the gender pay gap. It has been many years since the leaders of developed and developing economies have agreed that men and women should be paid equally. And it is the right time for employers to implement policies that are helpful in eliminating this gap. Companies across the globe are left with no choice but to comply.

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