One of my pet hates is inequality of any kind. So the myriad facts and figures around gender pay inequality published in the last few weeks haven’t sat well with me.
The last two weeks alone have seen reports of:
- A 21% pay gap between male and female general marketeers (Econsultancy’s Salary survey 2015 report: digital specialists vs general marketeers).
- A 51% gender pay gap for health professionals in the top 20% salary bracket (Analysis by Michael Page, based on the Office of National Statistics’ 2014 Annual survey of hours and earnings).
- Women working in the digital industry earning an average of 9% less than male colleagues (The Candidate’s Women in digital report).
These all follow the government’s launch of a consultation aimed at establishing the details of its plans to make it compulsory for employers with more than 250 staff to publish the average salaries for both male and female employees.
But, while this is intended to act as a deterrent against ongoing gender pay inequality, how likely is this new compulsory reporting requirement to bring an end to this deep-rooted practice and result in equal pay for staff, regardless of their gender?
After all, just because an employer is required to publish details of any discrepancies between male and female salaries, does that really mean it will also then deem it necessary to take action to close this gap?
While some more responsible organisations that invest heavily in their public image and corporate reputation will certainly do so, others will undoubtedly take a much harder line.
You only have to look at some organisations’ unchanging stance to zero hours contracts, despite the widespread furore and negative perception of these, for example.
Call me cynical, but I also wonder about the impact on employee engagement and morale among staff who feel that they are being underpaid based on an organisation’s published salary details. Even if this isn’t actually the case, it could potentially create a lot more work for employers to ensure their pay strategy is sufficiently transparent and effectively manage staff expectations.
Unless the government also makes it compulsory for employers to take steps to eliminate gender pay inequality, personally I can’t see how these reporting requirements will stamp out the issue altogether – although they’re certainly a step in the right direction.
I’ll be very happy if I’m proved wrong.