THE X-FILES: A CASE STUDY
So The X-Files is back! Fourteen years after Mulder and Scully left our screens, these two determined FBI agents are back dealing with the paranormal. What’s more disturbing than extra-terrestrial activity? That’s right, the gender pay gap.
I’ll explain. When the show first started in the 1990s Gillian Anderson (Scully) was offered half the salary of co-star David Duchovny. Yet things have moved on since then haven’t they? Surely no employer would pay a woman less than a man nowadays for doing the same job…
Apparently so. Believe it or not, Fox TV offered Gillian Anderson half her co-star’s salary for the comeback show. She turned down the offer and Fox TV had no choice but to pay her the same as Duchovny. But Anderson was in a strong bargaining position. Not many women can afford to walk away from employment.
WHAT’S GOING ON?
We hear a lot of competing information about Equal Pay, but what’s really going on? New evidence has just come to light. The Government Equality Office and Deloitte have teamed up to publish this report highlighting the importance of transparency in mending the gender pay gap. Astonishingly, there’s still an average pay gap of 19.2% between women and their male counterparts. Less surprisingly, the pay gap tends to be higher in the finance, energy and construction sectors and lower in sectors such as public administration, support services and health and social work.
Part of the problem is that lower paid jobs are more likely to be filled by women than men. Pop into the supermarket and the majority of employees on the tills are women. Visit your mother in a nursing home and most of the carers are women. Now, go to a board meeting and most of the well paid executives will be men – you can bet your prized X-Files box set on it…
Many women take the lower paid roles or work part time because it fits in with their childcare responsibilities. Even with family friendly employment laws such as flexible working and shared parental leave, it’s still difficult to juggle a senior position with family life. Look closely at the senior female executives you know – most will have a live in nanny or a full time Dad.
MIND THE GAP
So listen up employers! Yes, it might seem easier to take the Scully approach and convince yourself there’s nothing weird going on out there…
But this would be a risky strategy. Since their recent report, the government has confirmed that employers with 250 or more employees will have to publish details of their gender pay gaps for public display by sector. And there will be no hiding in the shadows, because the government is set to name and shame employers who do not comply.
Regulations will come into force in October, when employers will have to (a) do a data snapshot on 30 April 2017, and (b) publish their first gender pay information by 30 April 2018. So now is the time to make some changes.
It’s not rocket science. The challenge to employers is to attract more women to senior positions and pay them fairly for the work they do. Here are a few ideas:
- Look at your workplace culture – do you expect employees to work late regularly, attend 6.30 breakfast meetings or travel abroad? Is this really necessary?
- Monitor male and female pay and investigate the reasons for any inequality.
- Make a commitment to publish your gender pay gap early to ensure accountability.
- When faced with a flexible working request don’t immediately find ways to refuse. Have an open mind and try to make the arrangement work.
- Attract, recruit and train women.
- Educate your staff about the Shared Parental Leave rules.
CHOOSE A BETTER WAY
Bright, talented employees don’t have to compromise – and neither do their employers. At Carbon, I have the power to deliver excellent service to my clients, as well as being a great role-model and support to my daughter. Just as being a parent doesn’t start and stop with the school bell, your clients don’t disappear into a puff of smoke as soon as the clock strikes 5. Think about it – more flexibility and control over how you work means you are there for clients when they need you as much as for your family. So it really isn’t one way or the other.
Do you feel you are being treated unjustly at work and need some support? Or are you anxious to protect your employees against the pay gap and rule out equal pay claims for good? If so, get in touch. Together, we can work out how to make unequal pay even less likely than the threat of extra-terrestrial activity…