A few months ago we reported on the government’s publication of a list of companies who failed to provide their workers with the national minimum wage (a move which led to much online mockery of said companies) and now they are to further harness the power of employer shame, by revealing the details of companies who fail to ensure pay equality between the genders in their workforce.
The plans are all part of David Cameron’s much lauded strategy to eliminate the UK’s gender pay gap within a generation, and builds upon the work already begun within the last coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.
Despite significant progress towards a fairer wage economy in recent years, data released by the Office for National Statistics reveals that there is still a very long way to go before parity of pay between the sexes is achieved. At last count (April) women earned some 9.4% less than their male counterparts, representing a 0.6% narrowing of the margin since April 2014. Nevertheless a 9.4% margin in the rates of pay based on a person’s gender is still an affront to national dignity, and something which cannot be allowed to continue, should we wish to call ourselves a modern and progressive society.
You may or may not be surprised to learn that this latest drive towards equal pay represents an official policy u-turn on the part of the Conservatives that took place during the last election campaign. The policy of encouraging gender pay equality was one which the Liberal Democrats fought hard to promote during their 5 years in coalition, but was met with much resistance from a number of Conservative MPs. Despite this they manage to convince the House to legislate in favour of forcing all companies with more than 250 staff to publish the average salaries paid to their male and female staff. A quick u-turn in their election manifesto, saw the Conservatives bow to public concern for the matter, and effectively lock themselves into tackling the gap should they be reinstated into government.
Speaking to a group of business leaders in London earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron remarked, “Paying men and women different amounts for doing the same job isn’t entirely solved, but it’s nearly solved. The difference between pay for men and women doing different jobs is much more difficult to tackle, but we can do it with help from business.”
Whilst we do applaud the (somewhat fashionably late) arrival of the Tories to the gender pay equality party, we think that the lack of direct strategic targets for reducing the gap between men and women’s pay, leaves their efforts a little on the superficial side, and risks simply highlighting the issue, rather than finding creative and progressive ways to tackle it.
At the moment it all feels just a little ‘devil-may-care’.
You might like to take a look at some of these recent posts;
Popup shop highlights gender pay gap
Jeremy Clarkson, an affront to equality?
Dealing with discrimination when applying for a job