Mend the gap
By Mike Hoffman
Over the course of the summer, the usual silly season of news stories was replaced with altogether more serious fare: nuclear flashpoints, terrorist incidents, Brexit uncertainties and the Gender Pay Gap. The latter of which made headline news when the BBC released the salaries of their top ‘Talent’. This list clearly highlighted the fact that female presenters and journalists were underrepresented – both in terms of the number of them in the Top Earners bracket and the level of pay itself.
Let’s talk money
In 2017, the gender pay gap is far from acceptable and raises important questions about inclusion and equality for women at work. Questions the government are trying to answer, as from April 2018, all large employers, including the public sector, will be required to publish their gender pay gap and gender bonus gap. And, while this naming and shaming will provide good fodder for the press, it’s also a step in the right direction, towards equal pay, for equal work too.
Mum’s the word
Even better though, the doubling of free childcare hours for 3 and 4 year olds available to parents earning more than £120 per week from September 2017, means that around 390,000 working families could suddenly get up to £5000 of free childcare. Given the prior, prohibitively high cost of nursery care, this financial boost from the government could help advance women in the workplace and potentially enable them to return to work, earlier.
And as, according to the Fawcett Society, for each year a mother is absent from the workplace, her future wages will fall by 4%. This earlier return is effectively an investment in a woman’s future earnings and prospects.
Have a seat
It’s also notable that a higher proportion of women are found in occupations that offer less financial reward in general, like administration, or work in sectors where low pay is rife, such as retail, hospitality and the caring professions. And that even in sectors like retail, where women make up nearly 70% of the workforce, only 20% of executive teams and 10% of executive boards are female.
The government can only do so much to ‘nudge’ employers to make the market more responsive. Employers also need to recognise barriers within their own organisation that may unconsciously block female career progression or opportunity.
For example, a retail client of ours noticed store manager opportunities were never advertised as part-time externally, even though were internally, to returning mums. Going to market with this offer, would increase the chances of getting a wider variety of candidates and make an important chip in the wall of systemic barriers to inclusion that women face.
We work with lots of organisations to identify and develop their workforce’s drivers and barriers. Because it’s not just about making sure women are paid the same as men for the same work. It’s also about making sure they have the same opportunity to do that work too.