Time To Talk: the Gender Pay Gap
17 March 2021
Author: Jasmine Waters
Following International Women’s Day on March 8th, the media fallout has only become more turbulent. In the eye of a bigger storm - concerning women’s rights and safety – comes a report that British business members are the least likely to prioritise the gender pay gap. After the impact of the pandemic, it’s now reported that women’s financial equality has been pushed even further back, with some form of equal professional measure given an approximate timeframe of 60 years. Why are businesses so reluctant to face the growing need, and what more can we learn?
What do we think about the pay gap?
Like many issues, the professional effects of women during the pandemic are complex ones. A study by Ipsos MORI reveals that only 28% of the British public feel that closing the gender gap is important, with a portion within that believing the statistics to either be fake news or an act of political correctness gone mad. Europeans are more likely to favour these efforts, standing at approximately 44%. British employers are currently being encouraged to report their gender pay gap data for 2020/21, as some UK firms have been given a sixth month reprieve. The reasons for why the gap is so apparent, as well as reasons for why it might not be on its way to solution, have been hotly debated. From critiquing women’s negotiating skills to complete disbelief, what can the data actually tell us?
What do women in business need?
For a start, there’s increasing evidence that female-led or mixed teams bring about better business results, providing great claim for recruiting, promoting and investment drives. There are arguments that a post-COVID remote workplace could also be an extra benefit to both business and the women within it, thanks to the added ease of company meetings. There’s also a greater incentive to create more informal conversations out of the meeting room with ‘bold’ employees, hopefully prompting a change of attitude in employers. That being said, there’s no doubting COVID has further dented the professional growth of women. With heavy home-schooling burdens often falling disproportionately to females and the need to ‘do it all’ under the guise of a new normal, there’s a real risk of any gender equality progress being unwound. Aside from pay, there arguably needs to be a greater range of initiatives in place. Projects such as Investment 2020 have been put in place to encourage a more diverse work force, while the need for female and marginalised role models in senior positions has continued to be stressed.
The environment for working women must also hold true when brands and businesses are recruiting, as women can often find promised flexibility never materialises. As for the pay gap itself – there has never been a more important time to understand equality data. Demonstrating commitment through detailed action plans is key, as doing the best by employees is an assured route to success following a year no one could anticipate.
Image source: www.bethkobliner.com