The gender pay gap is still very much prevalent in Great Britain today, as it has recently emerged that four out of five companies and organisations still pay their male employees 15.5% more than their female ones. The median wage gap difference stands at 9.4%, reflective of results published in 2017-18, when employers were first required to publish information surrounding male vs female pay. The wage gap is measured by taking the median hourly pay for men and subtracting the median hourly pay for women, then by dividing the result by the median hourly pay for men and multiplying the result by 100 you get the differences in pay for men and women. When looking at the pay gap as an issue affecting women across the entire world, it has been estimated that it will take 257 years to close it.
Last month's spring budget promised parents with children aged 3-4 eligibility for thirty hours of free childcare, in a bid to encourage more women to enter the workplace and not be forced to choose between having a job and childcare responsibilities. Despite its best efforts to encourage equality, the release of the current state of the wage gap is a disheartening and disappointing reminder that there is a lot more work to be done when it comes to creating an inviting and motivating environment for women to work in. With the release of recent statistics highlighting how across all sectors, eight out of ten UK employers paid men more on average than they do women, how can women expect to keep up with their male counterparts in the world of work when their work effort is being valued less?
In 2017, the Government introduced the Gender Pay Gap service Website, an initiative which by law requires companies, charities and public sectors of 250 employers to publish their gender pay gap figures annually. Asking for pay transparency and bringing up to the surface companies that were financially disadvantageous to women workers was believed to trigger a change of mood in the financial landscape, where organisations would want to make more of an effort to do better. Fairness and equality in the workplace, alongside transparency when it comes to paying in this day and age are basic requirements that are expected to be adhered to daily, and so with the recent publishing of results mirroring those published in 2017-18, it becomes clear why such initiatives are being put in place in the first place.
The gender pay gap has been a major political and social talking point for many years, first coming to light in 1888 when Clementina Black, the honorary secretary of the Women's Trade Union Association formed an organisation that would put pressure on employers who were paying very low wages to women. Black would later go on to move a motion on equal pay for equal work. With the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1975, which centred around banning any less favourable treatment between men and women in terms of pay, more women were put on track to increase their lifetime earnings and avoid poverty. Not only does a wage gap dictate female financial dependence on men but the economic inequality it promotes leaves women vulnerable to violence and discrimination, limiting their ability to leave abusive relationships when their male partner is the higher economic provider.
When weighing in on the gender pay gap debate over the years, some have claimed that due to more women working part-time and fewer choosing mostly higher-paid jobs, there will be a clear difference in how men are paid compared to women. On the surface, the gender pay gap does not account for the qualifications, experience and continuity of employment that play a role in determining how much money men will make compared to women. To get a clearer financial picture of how a company is rewarding its male employees compared to women, considering the actual roles each plays in the company helps build a clearer picture.
As women's pay creeps up on men at the same pace as five years ago, many campaigns based around gender equality are calling for employers to set up action plans strategically demonstrating how they will improve gender fairness and equality in the workplace. Calling for the introduction of penalties that will be levelled at companies that fail to pay their female workers in financial relation to men in the industry, attempting to level out the gender playing field in the long run. Those specialising in the analysis of the gender pay gap argue that the gap shouldn't just be a responsibility that is catered to by big companies. If schools encourage girls to take up STEM-specialised subjects at a younger age then more women will go into higher-paying jobs in the future, and if childcare options are reassessed in terms of flexibility and affordability, then more women will be able to enter the workplace in the long run. Edited By Aminat Akintobi
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