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EqualPayPortalBlogSpot is run by equal pay expert Sheila Wild

30 September 2016

Teenage pregnancy and violence against women contribute to gender inequality

I've only had time to glance at the full report from McKinsey on the UK gender gap, but the executive summary is singularly impressive. 

Why? Because it looks out of the box labelled 'public policy' and into the reality of women's lives. It recognises that life events like teenage pregnancy and violence against women have an impact which extends beyond the domestic sphere into the world of work. 

Over the past decade, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has made a sustained commitment to researching and writing about gender and diversity. Since 2007, McKinsey’s Women Matter research has explored the role women play in workplaces around the world. The UK research is based on MGI’s research world-wide. 

The Power of Parity, advancing women's equality in the United Kingdom argues that narrowing the UK gender gap in work has the potential to create an extra £150 billion on top of business-as-usual GDP forecasts in 2025, and could translate into 840,000 additional female employees. 

MGI step outside the workplace arena and call for action to tackle external barriers to women’s full labour market participation such as violence against women, and social attitudes and mindset.  Of the indicators MGI examined, data suggest that gender parity across social metrics is mixed, with UK women enjoying parity in higher education and in legal protection, but with other social indicators revealing a less positive picture. The highest disparity is in single parenthood. In addition, UK women spend almost twice as much time as men on unpaid care work, lagging North America and Oceania but ahead of the average in Western Europe
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The report also finds that while the UK has little gender inequality during childhood, with strong scores in digital inclusion, education, legal protection, child marriage and sex ratio at birth, once a woman reaches young adulthood, factors such as the UK’s relatively high prevalence of teenage pregnancy may limit her ability to enter the workforce; when coupled with low income mobility, this can restrict her future economic contribution. Gender-based violence may also impact some women during this phase, with possible ramifications for educational attainment and, later, labour-force participation. 

Within the workplace, MGI’s data suggest that national work indicators have not shown significant improvement: labour-force participation rate, hours worked, and median wage have all remained within the medium inequality range, while the women in leadership and managerial positions indicator continues to demonstrate high inequality. 

The MGI report should make uncomfortable reading for those politicians who tell us women have never had it so good. 

The Power of Parity makes a comprehensive list of recommendations and in a well-deserved compliment to the Committee’s chair, Maria Miller, identify the Women and Equalities Committee as a focus for future momentum.

I'm looking forward to reading the full report, and may come back with another post. 

You can read both the executive summary and the full report here. 

25 September 2016

Valuing the work that women do

Deloitte’s recent analysis of the gender pay gap, which received extensive media coverage, is based on figures from the Office for National Statistics. It shows that the difference in the hourly pay gap between men and women is closing at a rate of just 2.5 pence per annum, but that in certain occupations, such as skilled trades and education, the gap is actually widening. Even in female-dominated occupations, such as teaching and caring, men receive considerably higher average pay. At this rate, Deloitte calculate the gender pay gap will not close for another 53 years.

Deloitte’s solution is for more to be done to encourage girls from an early age to understand the impact that their choice of studies can have on their career options, and to encourage them to consider careers in science, engineering and technology (the STEM subjects).
Emma Codd
Emma Codd, Managing Partner for Talent at Deloitte, said: 

“We know that the pay gap is far smaller for those women starting their careers in STEM related roles; we also know that high-skilled jobs demanding a blend of cognitive, social and technical skills are typically among the most highly-paid. Therefore, if more women study STEM subjects and pursue related careers they will increase their earnings potential in the early years of their working lives and - should they remain in their careers - the later ones. This in turn should serve to reduce the gender pay gap.”
All well and good, and of course we should be doing this. But we also need to take a long hard look at the value we place on jobs. The traditionally female roles of cleaning and caring, for example, are just as important to society’s well-being as are science and technology. Nowadays we take cleaning entirely for granted, but without it there would be disease – think MRSA within hospitals, or gastro-enteritis in cafes and restaurants. And as for caring, why do we pay people more for looking after our cars than we do for looking after our older and frailer citizens? The usual answer – that the market sets the rates of pay – only begs further questions, like who or what is the market and why does it set a higher value on things than it does on people? In short, where are its moral values?

As Deloitte recognises, the gender pay gap has a variety of complex causes, and it will take a flexible and sustainable approach to eliminate it. One of those approaches is to encourage girls to go into higher paid work; another is to set a proper value on the work which women do.


16 September 2016

Bank of England Gender Pay Gap Report

On Tuesday of this week the Bank of England released its latest figures on the gender pay gap.

 

According to the Bank’s own release the pay gap based on mean full-time equivalent salaries was 18.7 per cent, down from 19.7 per cent at March 2015.  The equivalent figure for median salary was 26.4 per cent, down from 27.6 per cent.
The Bank says that the main reason for the gap is the lower proportion of females in senior roles relative to males.  The Bank has 44 per cent female employees and 60 per cent of these are in the lowest two quartiles (55 per cent of employees in the first quartile and 49 per cent in the second quartile are female). In the highest paid quartile, only 32 per cent of staff are female.  To address this imbalance the organisation has two Bank-wide targets for gender. The first is for 35 per cent of its senior management staff to be female by 2020 (from the current 28 per cent). The second is to have an equal split of men and women in the organisation at all levels below senior management by 2020 (from the current 44 per cent).
The Bank is currently undertaking work to improve data capture on role types, to ensure it has the best data available to be able to monitor, and develop strategies to continue to address pay differentials. The Bank also notes that it is important to view its gender pay gap in the wider context of education and employment in the UK and that for the majority of roles it recruits for, the pool of candidates is predominantly male. Only 27 per cent of UK economics students are female. 

The Bank is committed to publishing its gender pay data as part of the forthcoming reporting requirements, and in a taste of what may to come for organisations reporting on their gender pay gaps, most commentators chose both to report on the wider of the two measures (the median) and to point out that the gap is currently higher than the national average, as measured by the Office for National Statistics (19.2 per cent in the private sector and 11.4 per cent  in the public sector ). These comments, as well as emphasising the worst case, ignore the wider – and very relevant – information about the context, as provided by the Bank.
The Bank’s figures also show an improvement in the number of women in senior roles. In 2015, there was a 25 per cent female representation at senior levels, but this has risen by 3 per cent in 2016, suggesting that the Bank has a good chance of meetings its targets.



12 September 2016

Equal pay claims up

The number of employment tribunal claims dropped slightly in the three months to June 2016, continuing the downward trend since tribunal fees were introduced in 2013.

Statistics released by the Ministry of Justice showed that there were a total of 4,200 single claims received in this quarter, down 3 per cent on April to June 2015. However, equal pay claims bucked the trend, being up on the same quarter in 2015 at 3,367, a rise of 72 per cent. However, some of this rise may be attributable to group actions for equal pay against two major supermarkets, Asda and Sainsbury’s.

The duration of a tribunal case, that is, how long it takes from being lodged to its eventual conclusion, increased for multiple claims, many of which will be equal pay claims, but went down slightly for single claims. For single claims relating to discrimination jurisdictions, the mean age of a case ranged from 34 weeks for sex discrimination claims to 91 weeks for equal pay claims. The mean duration of a multiple equal pay claim was 320 weeks (well over 5 years), but with some cases already having lasted 440 weeks.  The length of time taken to dispose of equal pay claims may be contributing to the 15 per cent increase in outstanding cases in Employment tribunals.

As an aside, EqualPayPortal notes with interest that the Equality and Human Rights Commission does not appear on the Pre-Release Access list for these quarterly statistics, meaning that any press release the Commission might choose to  issue in response to increases or decreases in claims filed within its areas of interest is likely to be overlooked as being ‘yesterday’s news.’

PWC publishes its gender pay gap

The professional services giant PWC, has published its latest gender pay gap figures in its annual transparency report. PWCs strategy for recruitment, engagement, development, diversity and remuneration is consistent across the firm.

On remuneration, PWC says:

“In determining remuneration for our staff we carefully balance several elements including: the economic climate and the external market; recognition of people’s hard work, including the quality of the work they deliver; the performance of the firm; and investment for the future. We have common firm-wide reward principles, but in rewarding our people we recognise that we operate in different markets. We have a firm-wide bonus plan, but individual bonuses are determined by each Line of Service.

We have conducted Equal Pay Reviews for more than 10 years. We published our gender pay gap for the first time two years ago, being the first in our sector to do so. This is one of the many activities we undertake to ensure our employment policies and practices are fair. We review pay and bonus by gender, ethnicity and different working patterns (full time to part time).

In FY16 our single figure gender pay gap was 15.2% (FY15: 15.3%). Our single figure gender pay gap does not take into account objective reasons for pay difference such as grade, location or performance level. In line with good practice, we therefore adjust this figure for the different gender demographic across the grades, as we have more men than women at our most senior grades; this adjusted pay gap figure is 2.6% (FY15: 2.8%).
We continue to take actions to address any gaps and also to take action through wider policies and activities to make sure our policies and practices are fair. This includes actively reviewing decisions on out of cycle payments, experienced recruitment and during our pay and bonus rounds.”


You can read the full transparency report here.

10 September 2016

Groups protesting against the Government's selection of G4S to deliver the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) have written (with an accompanying dossier) to the Select Committee on Women and Equalities and the Joint Committee on Human Rights, calling for an inquiry into the suitability of G4S to deliver the Service to those who have faced discrimination on the grounds of their sex, race, or disability, despite a recommendation by a House of Lords committee to take the helpline back in-house.

The joint letter and dossier have received widespread coverage in the UK media, including in : Politics.co.uk, The Guardian, and Solicitors Journal.

But, time is running out. The service is due to become operational on 1 October and run for three years, with the option of a two year extension. In the meantime, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which wants the service back, is working with G4S and government to provide advice on how the service can best meet the needs of those who experience discrimination or an abuse of their human rights.

You can read both the letter and dossier on Liberty’s website.

EqualPayPortal would be interested to know what training is being provided to G4S staff in advising employees on equal pay claims.