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EqualPayPortalBlogSpot is run by equal pay expert Sheila Wild

28 February 2018

Is the games industry catching up?

A recent post on features a discussion about the importance of ensuring employees are paid fairly regardless of their sex. The post kicks off with mention of the Equality Act 2010 as the source of women’s entitlement to equal pay. Makes me wonder if one of the factors contributing to pay inequalities in the sector is the industry not having noticed that the right to equal pay has been around for almost 50 years.

And does any other sector really think that the BBC is a good example of how to handle the issue?

Better late than never, and good to learn that Women in Games will put women who might have an equal pay issue in touch with people who can help them.  Unfortunately, the Women in Games search facility draws a blank on both ‘equal pay’ and ‘the gender pay gap’ – “NOT FOUND, Sorry, you are looking for something that isn’t here.”

27 February 2018

Closing the gender pay gap could increase female earnings by £85 billion

The fifth update of the Women in Work Index provides PWC’s assessment of female economic empowerment across 33 OECD economies. The index is a weighted average of five indicators that reflect female participation in the labour market and equality in the workplace; this year’s report uses the UK as a case study to examine the causes of the gender pay gap.

PWC’s analysis of the UK suggests that job segregation between women and men (women doing some types of jobs and men doing others), both across industries and across occupations is a major cause of the gender pay gap.

The report estimates that closing the gender pay gap could increase women’s annual earnings by £2000-£8000 a year, depending on the region in which they work. The report notes that there is much that businesses and government could do to help in closing the gender pay gap, and comes up with some excellent suggestions, but it makes no mention of reviewing pay practices per se, to ensure that women and men doing equal work receive equal pay. The report does however note that the gender pay gap matters, not only now, but because it has serious implications for a woman’s lifetime earnings and her ability to save for retirement.

You can read the full report here.

6 February 2018

The impact of part-time working on the gender pay gap

As so often happens, the press seized upon a simple headline, namely that the gender pay gap is down to women working part-time – but to say that is to do the paper’s authors a disservice; the situation is much more nuanced than the headlines implied.

IFS found that gender differences in rates of full-time and part-time paid work after childbirth are an important driver of differences in hourly wages between men and women. This is because they affect the amount and type of labour market experience that men and women build up, and this experience affects the hourly wage levels they can command.

While it used to be the case that women’s lower earnings were due to their taking time out to have children, improved maternity and parental rights mean that the main impact of experience now arises from women’s greater likelihood of working part-time after childbirth. The IFS paper states that this is because extra experience in fulltime work leads to higher hourly wages, whereas extra experience in part-time work does not. But, as the IFS says, and the press coverage largely forgot to mention, a key challenge for future research is to understand why part-time work shuts down wage progression so much.

The IFS goes on to consider the possible reasons for part-time working having such an adverse impact on earnings. These include less training provision, missing out on informal interactions and networking opportunities, and genuine constraints placed upon the build-up of skill by working fewer hours. Understanding this properly looks of great potential importance for policymakers who want to address the gender wage gap.

The report also suggests an alternative (or complementary) focus, namely to seek to understand the causes of gender differences in rates of full-time work in the first place, such as the division of childcare responsibilities. 

But don’t we also need to understand at what level of part-time working does wage progression begin to shut down?  At 30 hours a week? Surely not.  At 7 hours a week? Possibly. And in what types of role?  Do people who, for example, combine a medical specialism with research, experience a discounted rate of pay? Almost certainly not, and yet they will be holding two part-time roles. We do need to know more – but such questions have been being asked for decades – will someone please come up with the answers!

The IFS briefing paper deserves close consideration. You can find it here.

22 January 2018

This wasn't about the gender pay gap

I doubt if many of the trolls currently savaging Channel 4’s Cathy Newman will have actually watched her interview with Canadian academic and cultural critic Jordan Peterson - it was too long and too technical. Those who can only tweet are unlikely to understand the term ‘multivariate analysis’, a statistical technique, which as Peterson rightly pointed out, is essential to our understanding of the gender pay gap.

It’s more likely that the abusers will have been fired up by sight of the clip that was aired; this showed Peterson saying to Newman that she’d given him a hard time. In the context of what had gone before, including a discussion between the two of the trait of ‘agreeableness’ and of how majoring on agreeableness wasn’t going to secure a pay rise, Peterson was just continuing the conversation. Taken out of context in the interview as a whole, and in the context of an abbreviated clip, Peterson appeared like a man righteously indignant at not having been given a fair hearing.
In terms of its treatment of the gender pay gap, the interview could have been better. Neither Newman nor Peterson understood the distinction between fairness and equality. We all understand fairness, or think we do, but very few of us understand equality. I’m not sure I do, even after thirty years in the game. And, sometimes, in order to achieve equality, it’s necessary to be unfair - that’s because much inequality derives from past unfairness. For those who perceive themselves as being on the receiving end of the unfairness aimed at redressing past inequalities, the world is out to get them - hence the continuing unpopularity of positive discrimination.
Neither participant was particularly well-briefed, but to my mind, Peterson showed a better understanding of the gender pay gap. He was selective with the facts, and I don’t agree with his conclusions, but I meet with that every day of the week. Peterson could have accepted that discrimination can have a part to play in the gender pay gap. Newman could have accepted that factors other than discrimination are at play. But this kind of interview is not about moving the debate on by finding the middle ground, it’s about seeking out and heightening divisions. And unfortunately, in doing just that, it’s put Newman at risk.

The reaction to the Newman - Peterson interview is a gauge of how far women have yet to go. The problem it has highlighted is not the gender pay gap, but that a woman cannot interview a man about issues relevant to women without putting her personal safety at risk.

17 January 2018

Over 63 per cent of the gender pay gap still unexplained

The Office for National Statistics (the ONS) has today published an analysis which uses regression techniques to provide more insight in to the factors which affect the gender pay gap.

Using the headline measure of gender pay gap, the ONS found the gender pay gap for full-time workers to be entirely in favour of men for all occupations. However, the smallest gender pay gaps are in areas that have almost equal employment shares between men and women.
The analysis found that 36.1 per cent of the gender pay gap could be explained by differences in characteristics included in the model, but that occupation has the largest effect since it explains 23.0 per cent of the differences between men’s and women’s log hourly pay.
This means that 63.9 per cent of the gap cannot be explained, and the ONS suggests that their analysis would benefit from information on family structures, education and career breaks; without these the unexplained element is over-stated. Factors such as the number of children, the age of children, whether parents have any caring responsibilities, the number of years spent in school and the highest level of qualification achieved are likely to improve the estimation of men’s and women’s pay structures and consequently decrease the unexplained element of the pay gap. The ONS says that because of the need for further analysis,  the unexplained element of the gender pay gap should not be interpreted as a measure of discriminatory behaviour, but they do go as far as to admit that it may play a part. Question: if a woman with children earns less than a man with children, to what should we ascribe the difference in earnings?  
When looking at age groups, the ONS analysis found that the gap for full-time workers remains small at younger ages. However, from 40 onwards the gender pay gap widens, reaching its peak between ages 50 to 59 for full-time workers.
Whilst 9.1 per cent of the difference can be explained by the difference in working patterns, men are more likely to work full-time, and full-time employees on average earn more. In other words, if women had the same returns to these characteristics as men and with all other factors held constant, women would still earn less on average than men because fewer women work in the highest-paying occupations and in full-time jobs.
Modelling the factors that influence pay, the results showed that while both men’s and women’s pay grow for most of their lives, overall, women’s pay grows less than men’s and also stops growing earlier than men’s pay.

You can find the analysis here

10 January 2018

A spike in equal pay claims

Not surprisingly, the most recent statistics on claims filed with the Employment Tribunal show an increase in the period immediately after the removal of tribunal fees. Over 9000 of these were equal pay claims.

After the introduction of tribunal fees in July 2013 the number of equal pay claims received by the tribunal service dropped by 85 per cent. This was mainly because, until in July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees were indirectly discriminatory and thus unlawful, it cost up to £1,200 to take an equal pay claim to a tribunal hearing, enough to deter most people from taking a claim – which is of course, exactly what fees were intended to do.  It seems that while the government is willing to give people employment rights, it doesn’t actually want them to exercise those rights.  

Some commentators are attributing the spike in equal pay claims to the BBC. I don’t think so.  The fee regime was ill thought out and obviously discriminatory. It was expected to be found wanting, and lawyers will have been quietly preparing cases in the expectation of fees being removed.

Will the trend continue, or is the spike no more than a backlog?

You can find the latest release from the Ministry of Justice here.

9 January 2018

BBC cries ‘hush!’

Dozens of well-known BBC presenters publicly backed Gracie, only to fall foul of the corporation’s editorial guidelines. The BBC has pointed out that where a presenter or reporter has publicly expressed a view on a particular issue, they would no longer be perceived as an impartial voice, therefore it is right they do not conduct interviews on that issue.

All well and good - I can see where they're coming from - but it does feel that on this issue the BBC keeps putting its foot in its mouth. Muzzling people who speak out could give rise to further claims, but this time for victimisation.