How to prevent women paying the price for not being men in the world of work

Although the UK’s gender pay-gap has been steadily closing and is now sitting at its lowest ever level for full-time employees (17.3%), the reality is that women are still paying the price for not being men in the world of work.

New research has revealed that women working in the professional, scientific and technical, education and finance and insurance industries have essentially not yet received a pay packet this year (ONS ASHE 2019).

On average, women work for free for 63-days of the year, compared to men. But even in roles which are largely dominated by female workers – like education – there still remains a large gender pay gap. In fact, the gender pay gap for the education sector is 25.4%, which means the average woman is effectively working for free for 93-days. This means waiting until 2 April 2020 before being paid, compared to the average man.

Women in finance and insurance must endure the longest wait. With an industry pay gap of 33.7%, women effectively do not start getting paid until May 3 – a total of 123 days unpaid work.

Industry % gender pay-gap No. of days Women’s Pay Day
Professional, scientific and technical 24% 88 28 March
Education 25.4% 93 2 April
Financial and insurance 33.7% 123 3 May

* Women’s Pay Day by industry, source ONS ASHE 2019.

But publishing gender pay-gaps is not enough, which is why Lucinda Pullinger, Global Head of HR at The Instant Group, has delved deeper into the issues of pay by gender in the UK to uncover what needs to be done to make a change and bridge the gap.

  1. Incentivise paternity leave – Businesses can be made more female-friendly by incentivising paternity leave for dads. If fathers have additional paternity leave, mothers can return to work sooner, work more hours and earn more money, while allowing fathers more bonding time with their newborns.
  2. Subsidise childcare – The cost of childcare can be stressful for many families, with an average cost of part-time childcare being up to £6,000 a year. However, according to research, companies providing childcare services saw reductions in employee turnover, increased productivity, and improved quality in job applicants.
  3. Introduce remote working – In today’s digital world, remote working is becoming more acceptable and accessible to millennial workers, although parents can also enjoy the benefits of working from home. According to the TUC, flexible working has real benefits for businesses, with employees proving to be more dedicated and productive.
    A survey by Ernst and Young, 64% of working women who enjoyed flexible working hours claimed to have a clear career path compared to 10% of women who worked fixed hours.
  4. Be transparent about pay – Being open and transparent about how much you pay your staff, whether listed in the initial job description or the interview, is a good starting point. Businesses should research market rates for a role and offer a fair salary for the job they are hiring for. It is also a good idea to explain how your business determines salaries and pay increases up front so that the candidate can make an informed decision about joining your company or not.
  5. Ensure that promotions and rewards are fair – Disparity in pay can easily occur when employees are offered promotions, pay raises or bonuses. Putting in place clear and concise criteria for promotions, pay raises and bonuses will help keep things fair.
  6. Give female employees a raise – Giving female employees a raise can eliminate the gender pay gap in the most pain-free way. Equally, it provides the best strategy for businesses to continue operations with minimal disruptions and additional pressure.

    Lucinda Pullinger, comments: “Although we’ve seen minor improvements, reports still show that women work for free for 63 days of the year due to the gender pay gap. This proves there’s still a long way to go within the equal pay arena, and for women’s equality as a whole. In the workplace, businesses must start talking about gender, diversity and inclusion issues more transparently and openly, and putting measurable plans in place to combat imbalances. With regards to pay, companies can show their commitment through policies that work to eradicate the gap.”.

More women than men tend to work part-time jobs (30 paid hours a week or less) in an attempt to balance career and family responsibilities. These positions normally have lower hourly pay than full-time jobs (more than 30 paid hours a week) and are more likely to be in lower-paid occupations.

For this reason, the gender pay gap is higher for all employees than for each of full-time and part-time employees. The gender pay gap among full-time employees in the UK is currently at 8.9%, declining just 0.6% since 2012.

Additional research by Instant Offices has also found men are twice as likely to become entrepreneur’s than women. To find out more about gender discrepancies in entrepreneurial space, click here.

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