Addressing the gender pay gap

So it’s great news, that 30-something years after equal pay became a legal requirement, the government is actually doing something to enforce this.

You might notice a slight hint of exasperation here, because really.  What is the point of legislation that no-one bothers to even check whether it’s being adhered to?  So, great step forward.

Except, all it’s requiring is that information is published.  Nobody will then actually do anything to firms that are not paying equally – even thought this is the law.  So firms will notify the government that they’re not complying with the legislation.  And then nothing will happen.  *slow handclap*.

The government’s idea is that women can then use their power as employees and consumers to lobby firms, armed with this information.  Except, if women had any influence as employees of these firms, surely there wouldn’t be a gender pay gap anyway.

I know this is a difficult issue.  It’s very closely linked to representation on Boards and in senior management – because the easiest argument for a different average, is that there are more men in senior positions, dragging the average up, or conversely that there’s more women in the most junior part time roles.  And there’s still nothing to address this gender imbalance.  I do understand that there’s not a simple answer here.  But doing nothing is not an answer either.  How about requiring companies who do not meet equality criteria to come up with a plan to address it?  Hardly ground-breaking or business-threatening.  But it would force employers to at least consider some of the factors contributing to the pay disparity.  If they are simply not paying women equally for equal work, their plan would be hard pressed not to address this.  But if there are more complicated factors – like a lack of training and promotion for part time staff, or a lack of women in senior positions – then a firm having to at least consider this, would actually be a step forward.

Rather than this measure, which is a great headline to appeal to those pesky women voters.  But really doing nothing at all.


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