May vows to beat 'burning injustice' of gender pay gap

Theresa May declares the importance of speeding up progress to equality following the deadline for organisations to release information on the gender pay gap.

Women working in large business
Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to tackle the “burning injustice” of the pay gap between men and women in the UK’s private, public and charitable sectors.

Publishing the gender pay gap

On Wednesday – the final day for all employers with more than 250 staff to publish the gender pay gap within their organisations – Mrs May wrote in the Daily Telegraph that progress towards pay equality was too slow and that action was required to ensure the gap was closed for good within a generation.“It is essential that we do so. Most importantly, because equality for women is a right, and our whole society is the poorer as long as it remains unrealised,” she said.“There is also a clear economic imperative. It is estimated that if women and men enjoyed parity in their hours, pay and seniority at work then we could see up to £150 billion added to our GDP.”By Wednesday morning, 8,874 organisations out of the estimated 9,000 required to publish gender pay gaps, had submitted data. Of those, 78 per cent had a gender pay gap in favour of men, 14 per cent revealed a gap in favour of women, while eight per cent reported no gender gap at all.Nationwide across all sectors, British men earn 18.4 per cent more per hour on average than women, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. One of the biggest gender pay gaps has been revealed by Ryanair, which pays women 71.8 per cent less than men on average.
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Theresa May speaks on gender pay differences

Mrs May said the figures would “make for uncomfortable reading” for many employers. “By making this information public, organisations will no longer have anywhere to hide,” she wrote.“We will have established a baseline from which to hold them to account in the future. Shareholders and customers will expect to see improvements, and will be able to hold organisations to account if they fail to achieve them.”However, some statisticians have criticised the exercise, saying it is too crude a statistical crude mechanism to accurately gauge the true extent of pay differentials.But Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, a gender equality campaigning charity, said publication of the differentials represented an opportunity for employees to talk about pay and to find out what their colleagues earned.“Finally women are realising that they have a right to talk about pay and they cannot be silenced,” he said. “By finding out what their colleagues earn they are then in a position to challenge any pay inequality. It is much more common than people realise.”

Driving change in the workplace

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said, “Gender pay gap reporting is an opportunity for businesses to drive change in their workplaces. For the first time, every larger firm will know the average pay difference between men and women in their company.What gets measured gets changed, helping to develop more inclusive workplaces and support more women into senior roles.“There’s nothing more important for firms than attracting and retaining the best possible people. Companies want to close the gender pay gap. They have plenty of good practice to draw on – from great flexible working policies, to widening recruitment and engaging with schools to inspire young women into STEM subjects.“It’s important that the gender pay gap is not confused with unequal pay, which is already illegal. “Firms have had plenty of warning and have no excuse for failing to submit their gender pay gap data accurately and on time. But businesses can’t close the gap by themselves. Many of the causes of the gender pay gap lie outside the workplace, and will require a partnership between companies and government if we are to deliver long-term, lasting change.”For related news and features, visit our Leadership & Management section.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory