Women's Equality Leeds Blog

Women's Equality Leeds Blog

Why Flexible Working is Key to Closing the Gender Pay Gap

Written by Holly Curry – Change the Chat CIC www.changethechat.co.uk

Research shows us that the female talent pipeline starts to shrink around mid-management level from being roughly a 50/50 gender split down to around 3% of women at board level; a major factor for the Gender Pay Gap. One of the key reasons for this is that women are still taking up the majority of primary carer roles in families, meaning that their capacity to return to traditional 9 – 5, full time roles is reduced and as a result, there is an over representation of women in low paid, part time work; many of whom are overqualified.

Currently, women are opting for roles that fit around their families which is demonstrated by the 427,000 women in the UK on a career break, of which more than half will return to these lower skilled, part-time roles. Women returners earn around a third less than male counterparts, taking between a 12% and 32% pay cut, causing a bottle neck effect - as salaries rise the presence of women falls.

This affects opportunities for women on many levels; the lack of female presence in senior roles makes it the norm for men to be visible as the decision makers, and a lack of female sponsors for more junior women coming up the ladder continues the cycle of a lack of gender diversity and female presence in senior roles. In this way, it is easy to see how we have become stuck in a traditional, inflexible way of working and why women are excluded from more senior roles and higher earning potential, when their external commitments are equally as inflexible.

Flexibility in the workplace for everyone, at all levels, means that women are more able to progress, and more able to earn higher salaries. More women in senior level roles has a direct, immediate, and tangible impact on the Gender Pay Gap, as well as igniting a less tangible, positive shift in cultural change. Currently, the emphasis on flexibility is within those lower skilled roles; however, we need to start looking up, looking at how we can make roles flexible from the top down. Businesses need a cultural shift – as opposed to waiting for individual requests for flexibility.

Until flexibility is the norm, women will be stunted in their careers and in their potential to earn salaries equal to their male counterparts and the Gender Pay Gap will remain as prevalent as it is today.


Support our Leeds #Genderpaygap campaign

WE are launching our #Genderpaygap campaign today to raise awareness of the gender pay gap in Leeds, to celebrate the positive steps that local employers are making to tackle the gap, and to highlight those who aren’t making such positive progress.

We have written to 14 employers with offices based in Leeds with reported median pay gaps significantly greater than the national average of 18%. These employers are:

  • Jet2.com (median pay gap of 49.7%)
  • WYG Engineering Ltd (49.6%)
  • Shepley Engineers Ltd (43.3%)
  • Help-Link UK Ltd (40.3%)
  • Tech Search Associates Ltd (40%)
  • Henderson Insurance Brokers Ltd (35.8%)
  • Transunion (34.8%)
  • Leeds Bradford Airport Ltd (32.1%)
  • Bristan Group Ltd (32%)
  • Tenet Group Ltd (32%)
  • BJSS Ltd (30.7%)
  • Jemella Ltd (30.6%)
  • Alton Cars Ltd (29.1%)
  • Age Partnership Ltd (27.3%)

We asked them what progress they have made in regard to the actions that they committed to in the statements that they published in April 2018 on their gender pay gap data, and if they are taking any of the Government Equality Office recommendations into account.

Only four of these employers responded to us, are willing to engage in discussions about what action they are taking, and are being open and transparent. These employers are:

    • WYG Engineering Ltd
    • TransUnion
    • Henderson Insurance Broker
    • BJSS Ltd

We have asked these four employers to meet with us to discuss their plans in more depth, and we will be keeping in touch with all 14 employers to monitor what actions they are taking.

You can view their response letters here >>>

We would love it if you could get support our campaign by:

 

  • Contacting your local councillor or MP to ask them what actions they are taking to raise awareness of the number of employers with significant gender pay gaps in Leeds. Please download a template letter here>>>

        Please do let us know if you received a reply by emailing us on leeds@womensequality.org.uk

 

  • Taking part in the social media campaign – we will be tweeting on @wepleeds, posting on Instagram on @wep_leeds and on Facebook and it would be great if you could support the campaign using the hashtag #Genderpaygap

 

  • Sharing information about this campaign with family, friends and colleagues and asking them to support the campaign

 

This is just the start of our campaign. We will keep you updated on our progress, keep a look out for further information on this page, in our email updates, and on social media.


New Branch Team

Our new branch has been announced!

Thank you so much to everyone who attended the WEP Leeds branch election. It was a great evening and we are thrilled to introduce you to the new Women’s Equality Party Leeds branch committee!

 

Alice White, Joint Campaigns Officer:

‘I've been volunteering with the Women's Equality Party in Leeds as a Communications Officer and have helped with press activity, social media and strategic partnerships. I would really like to broaden my knowledge of equality issues and play an active role in campaigning in future with WEP so I have decided to become a Campaigns Officer.’

 

Laura Wood, Joint Campaigns Officer:
‘I joined WEP last year and straight away started campaigning in the Shipley general election campaign. After this fantastic experience, I became the leader of the Leeds Branch. I’m very proud to continue on the branch with a different role and excited to continue working with all of the wonderful people in the party who work so hard to fight for equality.’

 

Caroline Hunt, Election Agent:

‘I've been involved with WEP for 18 months now.  I am the coordinator of the Northern Hub, trying to bring all the Northern branches of the Women's Equality Party together to work strategically and share best practice. However, Leeds is my home city and I love elections.  As such I've asked to stay on as election agent for the Leeds branch.  This means that when it comes to the local elections in 2019 I will organise our candidates and campaigns.  I believe we could stand up to four candidates in the local elections next year but for that to happen we need candidates to come forward.  Let me know if you are interested and we can start working together, the sooner the better!’

 

Jess Hankins, Community Officer:
"Hi I'm Jess, formerly Fundraising Officer for the Leeds branch and now in the newly-created role of Community Officer. I'm looking forward to finding ways to connect with local organisations that share our aims, working with local businesses who wish to support us, and finding ways to build our membership and grow the party locally."

 

Jenni Richards, Treasurer:

‘I am a new mum and will shortly be returning to my job in environment/health and safety. I joined the party last year and I have been looking for an opportunity to get more involved in the local branch ever since. I have held Treasurer positions in other groups I am involved with, so I feel this role is the best way I can help the branch.’

 

Su Edwards, Joint Data Manager:
‘I’ve enjoyed being joint data manager for the last 18 months. I have returned to active feminism after a 30-year quiet spell and it’s great fun to do politics differently!’

 

Fiona Heseltine, Joint Data Manager:
‘I wanted to get more involved with the Women's Equality Party as I am passionate about achieving equality in Leeds. I'm currently on maternity leave from my day job as a head receptionist and I chose the Data Manager position as I feel the skills I have learned through my job will help me to be an asset to the party in this role.’

 

Bethany Alice Barry, Ending Violence against Women and Girls Champion Officer:

‘I have been volunteering for the Leeds Women’s Equality Party as the Communications Officer for the last year. Taking a key role on the branch committee has been an amazing experience and I am now excited to start my new role, focusing on how we can help tackle violence against women and girls in Leeds.’

 

Jenny Manuel, Equality in Healthcare and Medical Research Champion Officer:
‘I am a 60-year-old retired GP. I worked in Chapeltown Leeds for the majority of my career, providing direct patient care and training new GPs. I amassed working knowledge of the health system and feel that my experience may be useful for the branch to tackle inequality in Healthcare and Medical Research.’’

 

Louise Jennings, Equal Education Champion Officer:

‘I was the WEP candidate for Headingley & Hyde Park in the 2018 local elections. This was a great experience and I would like to continue making a difference with the Leeds branch.  I work in STEM higher education and am a School Parent Governor at my son’s school, so I would like to use this experience to champion equality in education.’

 

Rachel Hawker Equal Media Treatment Champion Officer:

‘I am a PhD student, studying atmospheric modelling at the University of Leeds. I chose the Champion Officer for Equal Representation in Media role because I'm continually frustrated by both the under-representation and the biased portrayal of women in the media.’

 

We hope you are as excited as us to welcome the new branch officers!

 

As you can see, we still have several branch positions open. These include: Branch Leader, Communications Officer, Fundraising Officer, Equal Representation in Politics Champion Officer, Equal Pay and Opportunity Champion Officer and Equal Parenting and Caregiving Champion Officer.

 

Please get in touch if you are interested in finding out more about any of these roles by emailing wepleeds@gmail.com

  


Help our Campaign!

We are asking for donations.  If you are happy to give one without being convinced then brilliant!  As long as you are a registered UK voter then click here to donate and make sure you provide your address. 

If however you need a little more convincing let me tell you why we need your donations. 

One of the biggest challenges new parties like the Women’s Equality Party face is letting voters know we exist. Political coverage on television is based on previous vote share so the status quo is heavily maintained. Even when we can get coverage in print media, its reach is heavily limited.

Running for council is not the most expensive part of politics in the UK but it still costs.  Headingley and Hyde Park has over 19,000 voters making it almost as large as a small parliamentary constituency. 

£150 would buy us 5000 leaflets.  Leafleting is the most direct way we can communicate with our voters.  If only three people could donate £50 then we would be well on our way to having our next batch of leaflets funded.

However, many voters live in blocks that are not accessible, particularly students in halls of residence.  We can communicate with them through targeted social media advertising for as little as £10.  Even a small donation can help us bring the message of gender equality to the people who need to hear it.

WEP Membership fees go towards brilliant parts of this party, such as our dedicated staff in central office, and providing childcare support for our general election candidates, but our local branches still need donations to put forward candidates in local elections.

If you wish to donate you must be eligible – political parties can only accept donations from individuals on the electoral roll in the UK.  Any donations from individuals who are not on the electoral roll must be returned.

Whatever you can give to help us get Louise elected in Headingley & Hyde Park will make a difference to all of Leeds.. 

Click here to donate


No Longer Childs Play: Childcare Costs and Current Consequences

In October 2017, it was widely reported that the average childcare cost in England rose seven times faster than wages.  In fact, the cost of child care sky-rocketed by 48% between 2008 and 2016a period when wages fell,1 and in Yorkshire and the Humber, the cost of childcare climbed by almost four times more than wages did.1

At the time, Trade Union Congress General Secretary, Frances O’Grady reflected on these astonishing and unfortunate statistics, emphasizing the vital importance of government-funded initiatives. 2

“Parents need subsidized, affordable childcare from as soon as maternity leave finishes to enable them to continue working, and so mums don’t continue to have to make that choice between having a family and a career.”2

To tackle this problem, the Conservative government launched the woefully inadequate ‘30 hours free childcare’ scheme. Under the scheme, working parents of children aged between three and four who are lucky enough to find a childcare provider offering free places (providers are free to opt out of the scheme) are entitled to 30 hours of childcare a week, for 38 weeks a year, with no cost to them. However, to fund this the government only offer providers, on average, £4.59 per hour per child. A subtraction of 7% is then made to this amount, to be retained by local authorities for administrative purposes.3

Research4 has found that hour for hour, pound for pound, the rate childcare providers receive from the government is not enough to match the cost of providing childcare. A staggering 74% of childcare providers say the current funding rate is less than the cost of a place, meaning there is an average shortfall of 18% per ‘free’ place when it comes to funds5. Furthermore, information from the Pre-school Learning Alliance5 details that 49% of childcare providers plan to increase how much they charge for additional (non-government funded) hours as a result of the current scheme. Proposals of this kind include charging extra for meals, snacks and trips for the children.5 Simply put, insufficient funding from the government is resulting in costs having to be made up by others—parents who are already struggling to cover childcare costs.

 

 

Our branch team surveying the parents of Leeds about Childcare Costs on Briggate

Canvassing

With canvasing now in full swing, it has been a great few weeks for WEP Leeds!  So far, we have knocked on over 2000 doors - but there is a lot more to do.  The inclusion of Hyde Park in the new Headingley and Hyde Park ward means an extra 6,700 voters have been added to the area - a roughly 50% increase! Though this is a potentially daunting prospect, with your help it need not be.

We need our members in Leeds to come out and canvass to ensure we have a councillor who puts equality at the heart of everything they do. Understandably, everyone is nervous about their first-time canvassing.  It is hard not to imagine a Paxman-esque figure answering the door, expecting you to be able to recite a detailed critique of each page of the WEP manifesto!  However, the reality is quite different.  In fact, the initial feeling can be one of anti-climax - nobody answers the door for the first six or seven times you knock!  Once somebody does answer, you quickly realise it is not nearly as daunting as you first imagined. 

As Laura Wood, WEP Leeds founding member, recently found, her worries about canvasing quickly evaporated as soon as she got started, “on my way to my first day of canvassing in last year’s general election, I was so nervous I looked like a rabbit in the headlights! But when I got there everyone was real friendly and it was all very laid back. I was paired up with someone who I’ve since become good friends with and when I got used to what to say and got some confidence I started to really enjoy it. Canvassing for WEP has brought out a side of me I didn’t know was there and I’m so glad I overcame my initial fears and got involved.”

Headingley_Canvassing_2.jpg


  
        
  

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