The gender pay gap refers to the difference in average pay between men and women in the workplace. This is a significant issue affecting many women, particularly those in low-income jobs. Despite some improvement over the years since the introduction of The Equal Pay Act in 1970, the issue remains stubbornly persistent. According to statistics, the average woman in the UK earns 8.6% less than the average man in the same role. Concerningly, research shows that it could take approximately 100 years to completely eradicate the gap.
Employers have a duty to consider this problem and implement workplace strategies to help combat it.
The gender pay gap is influenced by many factors, including occupational segregation, discrimination and women’s disproportionate caregiving responsibilities. Furthermore, research shows that women are less likely to negotiate for higher salaries and are more likely to undervalue their skills and experience. Unfortunately, the problem is widespread, as 8 out of 10 organisations with more than 250 employees continue to pay men more than women. Moreover, twice as many women as men are in the bottom 10% of UK earners.
Strategies to address the issue
Although the gender pay gap may seem like a daunting issue for employers to address, many effective strategies can be taken.
Be transparent about pay: Be open about pay structures within your organisation, including starting salaries for different roles, promotions and bonuses. This approach increases accountability and ensures that male and female employees are paid the same for an equal or similar role.
Reassess promotions, bonuses and benefits: Businesses should examine their promotion processes and ensure that they are fair and transparent. Additionally, providing benefits such as childcare support, flexible working arrangements and paid leave can help women remain in the workforce when juggling other commitments.
Increase women’s salaries where possible: Take the time to consider your teams’ salaries and provide increases to women wherever possible to address any pay gaps.
Encourage shared parental leave: Shared parental leave was introduced in the UK in 2015 and allows parents to share leave after the birth or adoption of a child. However, since its launch, only 2% of couples have taken advantage of the initiative. Encouraging employees to implement this can help to break down gender stereotypes and make it easier for women to return to work if they wish.
Enable remote working when possible: This can encourage women to work flexibly and balance work and life commitments more effectively. This can also improve their workplace productivity as they will be able to better focus on work tasks on their own terms.
Educate employees about the issue: Education and training can raise awareness of the gender pay gap and help to reduce unconscious bias in the workplace. Education can include salary negotiation workshops and training on diversity and inclusion.
Prioritising the gender pay gap issue
Tackling the gender pay gap is a complex issue, but there are many game-changing strategies that you can implement as an employer to reduce the gap and promote fair opportunities for female employees.
This is not just a moral issue but also has significant economic implications. Addressing the problem can boost employee morale, reduce staff turnover and improve business performance overall. Ultimately, it is in everyone’s best interests to create a fairer, more inclusive workplace for all.