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The conversation around gender inequality has intensified in recent months. An eruption of high profile scandals has brought fresh attention to the plight of women in the workplace; whether that’s an office, studio or gym. From Hollywood hotel rooms to London charity dinners, these cases have rightfully caught and held the public’s attention.

It is outrageous to think that a person’s gender can have more impact on their career and life than their merits and abilities. Perhaps these stories will catalyse a cultural revolution worldwide? Evidently one is needed before we can truly say women and men have equal opportunity to succeed. 

Damning Data

Figures published this month by the Office for National Statistics demonstrate the extent of change needed, from the perspective of financial compensation. The report shows how the gender pay gap, arguably the clearest measure of gender inequality, remains a pressing concern for millions of women. Men outearned women across every occupation studied.

It also shows that older women can expect to suffer the most. Those in their 50s bear the brunt of this inequality, with a significantly greater discrepancy than their younger counterparts, leaving them in a weaker position going into retirement. 

Tough At The Top

Budget airline EasyJet hit the headlines this week, when new chief exec Johan Lundgren revealed that he was choosing to slash his salary. This was to ensure he will get paid the same as outgoing CEO Dame Carolyn McCall, who is moving to ITV.

In a statement, he explained that the business is devoted to working towards equality, both in terms of pay and when it comes to the gender balance of its staff.

94% of easyJet’s pilots are male, but it plans to boost the proportion of female pilots it recruits to account for a fifth of new hires by the end of the decade. This is great news. Back in 2015 just 6% of pilots that joined the company were women – higher than the global average of 4% across the aviation industry, but not by much.

Meanwhile McCall’s new role as the (first female) chief exec of ITV is mired in controversy. Unlike EasyJet, ITV have not taken action to keep pay the same at the top. Dame Carolyn’s new £900,000 salary is almost 4.5% lower than that of outgoing boss Adam Crozier. Her pension deal is also far less favourable, at least at the moment.

This shows that despite positive steps in some areas, the norm of women being held at a disadvantage remains, even for those who do reach the top rung of the corporate ladder.

What This Means For Your Business

Organisations of all sizes have a responsibility to ensure that they are not contributing to this widespread problem, but are rather part of the solution.

A law introduced by the government recently requires any business with 250 employees or more to report on their company’s gender pay gap, before April this year. Of the 527 large businesses who have participated so far, most have had to admit to pay problems. Higher wages for men are apparent in 80% of the results.

Smaller businesses will soon have to follow suit in this push for transparency, whether voluntarily or as a result of government pressure.

Gender inequality can no longer be brushed under the rug.

Overall men earned 9.1% more than women last year. Their average hourly earnings sat at £14.48 compared with £13.16 for their female colleagues.

Women have enjoyed greater wage growth over the past half-decade, with averages up by 12% compared with 10.4% for men. But this rate of change is not helping to close the gap fast enough. In fact most major organisations are perpetuating it.

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