It’s estimated that male doctors make on average £10,000 more than their female counterparts, despite the NHS employing far more women than men.
This is not atypical however, the NHS is just one of many organisations that are guilty of gender disparity. Figures released in April show that an estimated 8 out of 10 companies pay women less on average than men.
But what's to be done?
First we need to understand what the problem really is. The “gender pay gap” is a separate issue to “equal pay”. Although the two are often conflated, equal pay – by which we mean paying men and women equal amounts to do the same job – has been a legal requirement since 1970.
The gender pay gap, on the other hand, is a measurement of the average difference in salary between men and women in any specific company. It is an indiscriminate overview of the pay disparity that highlights the unfair weighting of men in senior positions.
The EHRC issued an ultimatum at the beginning of this year, legally requiring all companies over 250 people in size to submit their pay figures by the 4 April 2018. Over 10,000 companies complied with the request, with only 1,500 missing the deadline.
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), this amounted to an 18.4% disparity in favour of male workers across the UK. Moreover, 78% of companies pay men more than women.
The findings serve as a stark reminder that we are a long way from a gender-equal society.
The first step, as ever, is admitting that you have a problem. The next is outlining a plan for addressing your company’s gender inequality.
The trick here is to be realistic but not complacent. Stating you plan to have eradicated your gender pay gap by 2020 will sound farcical, considering the skills gap in many industries.
However, steps such as bumping up quotas for women in managerial positions, or increasing the volume of females asked in for interviews will help establish the right sort of precedent.
One of the biggest takeaways from the report is that being a mother can cost you your career, otherwise known as the ‘motherhood penalty’. Research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggests that the gender pay gap increases dramatically after women take time off to look after their children.
Moreover there is a toxic stigma around paternity leave that means only an alleged 1% of men in Britain take the entitlement*. Men are also only gifted a total of two weeks of state funded paternity leave in Britain, making it one of the smallest entitlements in Europe.
The most widely praised solution to parental leave is to emulate the Swedish model of “daddy months”. This is an offer of 90 days paid paternity leave that men can chose to "use or lose".
This will help alleviate the stigma around stay at home dads and ultimately give women the flexibility to return to work after childbirth.
Another way to address the motherhood penalty, is relaxing the structure of your company's working day. The nine to five is an outmoded system, designed to enable one parent to work and the other to take charge of the domestic responsibilities.
This idea is out of kilter with our modern culture. Most of us, irrespective of gender, now have careers and the rigidity of standardised working hours make it difficult to juggle working life and a family.
This is why employers need to invest in a flexible working scheme, by way of keeping women in the workplace stratosphere and connected to their careers, throughout parenthood.
*Study by My Family Care
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