24 September 2016
Gender pay gap not set to close until a century after legislation to end it
The Women’s Equality Party has challenged the Government and industry to make radical change to end the gender pay gap, following new research by Deloitte that says the gap won’t be closed until 2069.
“In 1970, the Equal Pay Act was passed to ensure women were paid on the same terms as men,” said Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party. “We cannot wait a hundred years to see this become a reality. Emma Thompson said in May that she didn’t want to die before the pay gap was closed – unfortunately, she and many more of us look set to be very disappointed.”
The Women’s Equality Party are calling for all companies to publish their pay data now, in advance of new legislation coming into effect in 2018 which will force them to do so. “The data is there already, and WE are encouraging progressive companies to get ahead of the game by showing transparency now,” said Walker. “WE will offer support to companies who make bold and sustained efforts to eradicate the gender pay gap, which is so firmly entrenched in our working culture. Next year, WE will introduce a kitemark for those who show best practice.”
The Deloitte report found that, from the very start of their working lives, most women are paid a lower salary than their male peers. In nine out of 10 of the most popular career paths for graduates, men start out on higher average salaries than women. In all 10, this gap widens over time.
“Even in traditionally ‘female’ professions such as healthcare and teaching, the gender pay gap is established early on,” said Walker. “We need to tackle working culture, childcare costs and unconscious discrimination, all of which contribute to women taking low-paid jobs, taking time out of their careers for caring, and being passed over for promotion in favour of male colleagues.”
Walker pointed out that current Government plans to expand childcare are unfunded, and that amid all the noise over grammar schools, nothing has been said about investment in vocational training and apprenticeships. “Theresa May must set out clear funding plans for both, which are critical in solving the pay gap,” said Walker. “The Deloitte report also highlighted that girls in STEM careers are more likely to enjoy pay parity with male colleagues: WE want to see a gender equality Ofsted measurement introduced, which will tackle occupational segregation from early years education.
“Theresa May can start to make change, today, by implementing the clear plans WE have set out on flexible working, shared parental leave, equal opportunity in education and affordable childcare. We can’t let another generation of women down.”