Mind the Gap – Are we paying our women less than ever?

It’s no secret that the gender pay gap is real. It has been an issue for as long as women have been within the workplace and remains a concerning fact today.

Are we moving towards a more progressive, socially conscious society, where the gender pay gap will soon be a thing of the past?

Businesses in many countries are required to report on their gender pay gap annually and in some, they are also expected to publish an action plan on how they will reduce the gap.

This year will again see COVID being reflected in the data. With growing evidence that women have been much more severely impacted professionally by COVID than men, this year’s gender pay gap reports are expected to show that.

According to global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co, job losses due to COVID were 1.8 times higher amongst women than amongst men. McKinsey also found that one in four women in the US were considering leaving or reducing their work during the pandemic. Interestingly, 8% of mothers considered reducing their working hours compared to just 2% of fathers. It’s clear that despite the world moving closer to gender equality, gender inequality is real.

The pandemic hit sectors such as health and beauty, hospitality and retail the hardest. These areas are typically staffed and run by women, which backs up data that found that US female unemployment rose by 12.8% in the short period of time between February and April 2020. Across the globe, women’s employment dropped by a total of 4.2% while men’s saw a 3% decline between 2019 and 2020.

The picture isn’t any better in the UK. In September 2020, The Financial Times reported that as many as three out of four UK companies paid their men more than their women with men earning an average of 10% more.

In December 2021, The Guardian revealed that the gender pay gap is getting bigger, up by 9% in the private sector and 15.5% in the public sector.

For UK businesses this year, there are two pressing considerations with the deadline for submission of your company’s gender pay gap report looming.

Set against the backdrop of COVID, the first is to make this the year that you take practical and effective steps to decrease the gap within your business. Ensure that you have a successful, robust diversity, inclusion and above all, equity strategy in place. GDP helps businesses to devise plans to tackle gender inequality that deliver genuine change. In addition, improving pay and conditions for women has a positive effect on all employees and even the wider stakeholder community. Our previous post mentioned the importance of ESG for sustainable business development and tackling gender inequality is essential to embracing it within your work culture.

The second consideration is how you engage your key audiences with your gender pay gap data. Is your business avoiding the conversation and hoping to bury the data? Or are you using it as an opportunity for open dialogue that results in real change?

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