Much has been made of gender inequality in the workplace – with particular regard to the pay gap that exists between male and female employees. Despite rules of manners insisting that we shouldn’t talk about how much we earn, it has never been a more pressing conversation. Not just between friends, but within entire businesses.
Jane Gotts, Director and Gen Analytics, revealed at The Diversity Conference Scotland that the gender pay gap in Scotland currently stands at 16% (it’s 18% across the UK). Women in Scotland stand to earn £182.90 less per week than men and make up 70% of the part time workforce. She also stated that 85% of businesses have a pay gap that favours men; 80% have a bonus structure that favours men.
This, clearly, is a widespread problem on a huge scale. And it’s not just for women to be discussing. Male business leaders, colleagues and peers need to be speaking up on behalf of their female counterparts. They need to be raising their female colleagues up to board level; offering fair pay for a job well done. If Scottish businesses were to close the pay gap, it would boost our economy by £6.5 billion.
Some sectors were worse offenders than other – with construction, banking and finance companies proving especially unfavourable towards women. Their average hourly pay gaps worked out around the 20% mark. From NHS trusts, to travel companies and high street brands, the systematic reporting of significant pay gaps between male and female employees came pouring through after the midnight deadline.
We have spoken at length on our blog about the merits of a diversity agenda and equality within the workplace – no matter what size your business is or the industry you operate in. It has been proven, several times over, that when a business has a workforce that accurately represents its customer base, it is more productive and profitable. Essentially, we like to know that a business shares our values.
The Equal Pay Act was passed in the 1970s and many women are still chasing equality. Across Scotland, the gender employment gap stands at 6.8% whilst the gender pay gap is 6.2%. For many businesses, a key way to attract and welcome female employees would be to offer flexible working or childcare initiatives. The female employment rate in Scotland stands at just 69% - and a large factor in this is insufficient access to childcare.
Businesses need to lead from the top and ask not just what they are for but who they are for. We need to be confident in female candidates and provide strong role models for the next generation of workers. If this lack of visibility continues, the problem will only get worse.
We need to implement holistic change – and that starts with our attitudes, not just the legislation. Think about it this way: What is it like to be a female employee in your business? Is it a fair, safe and nurturing environment?
Create a place of work where every member of staff, no matter what their background, feels like they are making a valuable contribution.