An early payday is always good... isn't it? Not when it is Equal Pay Day. This is the day in the year when because of the gender pay gap women stop earning the same as their male colleagues. When it comes early it does not bode well for women in the workplace, especially at this time when the cost of living crisis is a cold reality. In 2020, the date in question was 20 November. In 2021 it was earlier on 18 November. This year it's 20 November. Later than 2021, but in real terms, given the rise in living costs, the day comes too early and is not moving in the right direction. According to The Fawcett Society, this means women will on average take home £564 less per month than men (the figure was £536 in 2021).  

Why is the pay gap widening?

As ever with these things, there is no one standalone reason which can easily be addressed and problem-solved. Factors to put into the mix are as follows:

  • A greater percentage of women working in the public sector which only saw a pay growth of 2% compared with the private sector's average of 6%.
  • A disproportionate amount of job losses among women as organisations tighten their belts and reduce their headcount - the type of jobs which organisations shed first are those where there is a high proportion of women.
  • Less emphasis on reporting the gender pay gap in recent years, with fears following the announcement by the Truss government that this will be scrapped altogether. We are still awaiting confirmation from the Sunak government as to whether they plan to proceed with this change.
  • Organisations are focusing less on their equality diversity and inclusion (EDI) programmes as shrinking profits and tighter margins means less money for these 'culture' pieces.

How should organisations respond?

It is key that whilst the country may return to the power cuts of the 1970s, equal pay and the key role of women in the workplace doesn't go that way too!

We would advise the following:

  • Continue to monitor your gender pay gap, be aware of worrying signs and be prepared to dig deeper into the reasons for a growing gap.
  •  As employers look to lessen the crippling effects of the cost of living crisis for staff with benefits packages, look especially at those costs which might help women and households (and no that's not unconscious bias rearing its ugly head, these costs are still generally shouldered by women, especially where they are parenting alone); nursery voucher schemes, supermarket vouchers, Christmas savings schemes (be aware of national minimum wage implications with these schemes).
  • if more women are being made redundant from roles which are being canned, can suitable alternatives be made more flexible so that redundant staff could remain in employment?
  • Continue to champion EDI within your organisation - do not let any initiatives become victims of the ongoing recession. Continue to: monitor that there is a gender mix at board/management level; encourage mentoring schemes for women starting in the organisation; address flexible work practices and whether more could be done to help women in their roles and set targets within your organisation and don't be discouraged if you don't meet them, there is value in the 'journey' as well as the outcome.

Please do contact us on  0121200 3242 if you would like further information about the above or have specific training needs on EDI within your organisation; we can provide short recorded sessions or longer bespoke training.