You might not realise it, but Friday the 10th of November is an incredibly important day. No, it’s not National Chocolate Day or the return of your favourite show on Netflix. November the 10th is Equal Pay Day in the UK. This effectively means that from this date, women are basically working for free for the rest of the year compared to their male counterparts. Yep, you read that right. And this is all thanks to the current gender pay gap.
Equal Pay Day tends to change the date each year according to what the pay gap is. So as the gap very, very slowly closes, the day moves later and later into the month. Progress has stalled in the last three years and either way, this just isn’t good enough. At the rate we are going, it will take 62 years to close the pay gap. Unequal pay for men and women doing the same role has been illegal for 40 years thanks to the the Equal Pay but women still earn less than men in Britain, with an average for full-time workers of 14.1%.
So in theory, there should be no real cause for this gap. But there is. Factors that have been found to make a difference include the likes of discrimination, undervaluation and male dominance. Did you know men continue to dominate the more senior and better-paid roles? The gap affects women of all ages although it is lower for women in their twenties at 5.5% and increases significantly for women in their fifties at 18.6%. There are also differences depending on the sector you work in as well as your ethnic background.
Closing the gender pay gap is not only necessary for equality but also incredibly beneficial. For employers, it helps them create a positive environment to work in and gain the confidence of their employees. How happy would you feel working for an employee you knew paid your male counterpart a higher wage for the same role? Exactly. By making it public that you as a business are a fair employer, you automatically attract an improved pool of talent to choose from, regardless of gender.Undervaluing women’s work and not using the skills they can offer is both a lost resources as well as incredibly unfair to all women who work hard in their careers.
“So what exactly is being done about it?” You might be asking yourselves. Well, the UK government have introduced a requirement which means that all companies must publish their gender pay gap by April 2018 in order to help monitor and change the situation. The publication of this data will encourage a dialogue between employers and employees about pay as well as enable women to officially see how their pay compares and to use the data as a chance to source better and fairer opportunities. Everywoman is the worlds largest network for women in business and provides a wealth of development, resources and advice whether you are an individual looking to further your career (perhaps in an environment that fights against you) or a company looking to equally balance their workplace. These are all really positive steps that I hope will lead to ultimately close the gap. Do not be afraid to have this conversation amongst your peers. It is something that needs talking about in order to make a difference.
I must stress that I personally haven’t experience gender pay issues. I would however really love to know your thoughts and experiences on the gender pay gap and if you take away anything from reading this it’s to think about the following: from November 10th, women just like you are going to be working for free.