Equality in the workplace has been at the forefront of conversation this year with thousands of women (and men) using different campaigns as an opportunity for their stories and voices to be heard. Whether you’re part of the cause, or part of the problem, it’s an issue that has received more coverage at this point in history than ever before, and it seems more wheels are finally being put in motion.
Carrie Gracie, a former Editor for the BBC made headlines in 2018 for turning down a £45k pay rise and instead suggesting that male journalists in equal roles to women should take a pay cut in a bid to close the wage gap between genders. She said she “didn’t want more money, [she] wanted equality”.
The BBC quickly went from a household name treasured amongst Brits, to answering for one of the UK’s biggest social injustices. As with all inequality, it’s not something big companies (or any company for that matter) want to have to deal with in the public eye, so making private business public knowledge is sometimes a necessary evil that forces change.
…and that change really does come! In January 2018, it was announced that six of the BBC’s leading male presenters agreed to take pay cuts after the revelations over equal salaries. The list included some of the following: Jeremy Vine (one of my favourite people in the world), John Humphrys and Huw Edwards.
From April 2018, all companies with 250 or more employees will be legally obliged to publish their pay for men and women. There’s no hiding for companies now (unless they want a knock on the door from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission) and those found with considerable pay gaps will be encouraged to publish an action plan explaining the steps they plan on taking to address the problem.
Companies who are already setting the stage include one of our own client’s Alstom who pride themselves on providing a working environment free from discrimination. Last year we created a series of posters for their Female Focus Group, a support network created for female employees to consult and voice their opinions on relevant matters. The pay gap within the transportation industry is currently -36% between genders, so ensuring that women working within this typically non-traditional industry are accounted for is crucial to ensure change and a shift in perspective for younger girls.
It’s expected many companies will need to brace themselves for the backlash after releasing their pretty embarrassing figures, but what this presents is an opportunity, and not a threat. Of course, in some cases, there will always be factors beyond equality that decide who is paid what; experience, time spent with the company, and who you are as an employee will always have an impact on the money you’re making compared to a colleague.
Nevertheless, as well as being the right thing to do, ensuring fair treatment and equality amongst all of your employees makes complete economic sense. Failing that, and if companies choose not to act, women can use this data to find better opportunities and really vote with their feet!