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It’s Time to Ditch the Discount: Destroy the Gender Pay Gap

The Pay Gap
It’s Time to Ditch the Discount: Destroy the Gender Pay Gap
Summary. The gender pay gap has been a trending topic for some time, however, the numbers showing the exact difference in payment for the same effort between men and women have only been discussed recently. In the UK, the pay gap is not exclusive to the salary but spills over to a gap in pension, entrepreneurship funding, and income post maternity leave. The gap widens with progression in age and career seniority. Closing the gender pay gap requires a multi-pronged approach. Initiatives like mandatory gender pay gap reporting, flexible working arrangements, and promoting women in leadership roles can all contribute to a fairer and more equitable landscape.

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Remember “equal pay for equal work”? That feminist battle cry from the history books? Apparently, some folks missed the memo. Because in the year of 2024, women in London are still mysteriously worth less per hour than their male counterparts, despite often juggling more responsibilities and sporting higher GPAs. It is like a bizarre workplace Black Friday sale, except the discount only applies to ladies – perpetually, and the discount gets bigger as we age!


Is Equality a Mere Illusion then?

The short answer is yes. We’re bombarded with messages of equality. Power suits, boardrooms – it’s all there! But the reality is, the playing field across the pond isn’t quite so level either. Think of it like a game of corporate Monopoly. Men get a clear path to Park Lane and Mayfair, while women are stuck navigating a labyrinth of unconscious bias, the motherhood penalty, and the ever-present expectation to be the office tea-maker while simultaneously being a coding rockstar.


Why is the Pay Gap Dangerous to Society?

In all seriousness, the gender gap is very dangerous, not only is it saying that women are worth-less than men, but it also causes burnouts to women who have to work twice as hard to reach the same level of income. And may we also add that there is gender equality when it comes to taxes, bills and any other payments women have to endure, so if we are taxed the same, why are we not paid the same?


But, how bad is it really?

The gender pay gap refers to the difference in average hourly earnings between men and women. While progress has been made, achieving equal pay remains a crucial goal. Here’s a look at the statistics for London and the UK:

  • UK Full-Time Gender Pay Gap (2023): As of 2023, the median gender pay gap for full-time employees in the UK sits at 7.7%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This means women working full-time earn 7.7% less per hour than men.
  • London versus the UK Gap: Interestingly, the gender pay gap in London is often higher than the national average. In 2022, data from the London Datastore indicated a median gender pay gap of 13% for full-time employees in London.
  • Age & Pay Gap: The ONS report also highlights variations based on age. The pay gap is narrowest for young adults (18-21) at -0.2%, but widens for older age groups, reaching 10.3% or higher for full-time employees aged 40 and over. The pay gap is the widest for women over 50, earning 23% less than their male equivalents! This is about the time when women get closer to the top of the corporate ladder and the c-suit salary.


So, what’s behind the gap?

Several factors contribute to the gender pay gap, including:

  • Occupational segregation: Women tend to be concentrated in lower-paying sectors like care work and education, while men dominate higher-paying fields like finance, technology, and construction.
  • The motherhood penalty: Women may take career breaks or work part-time due to childcare responsibilities, impacting their earning potential. In the UK, according to the Economist, the mother’s wage can drop over a massive 40% post children. A heavy penalty if you live in an expensive city like London where childcare cost is forever rising.
  • Discrimination: Unequal pay practices and unconscious bias can contribute to the gap. Biases such as women cannot negotiate or lead as well as men. We covered few of these in our article on Myths about Women.
  • Ignorance towards Menopause: This highly mis-understood factor, is one of the drivers of the age & pay gap. Many women feel like menopausal symptoms hinder progression in their careers and retention in senior roles, with 1 in 10 leaving the job completely due to the symptoms.
  • Ageism: Related to the menopause factor, one study found that women under 45 were almost twice as likely to be called back for a second interview than older women. Yet, women over 50 are the fastest-growing part of the UK with 4.5 million women aged 50–64 in employment in 2022. Remember, the average age of a CEO is 56, so you do the math of the size of the damage! This unfortunately also manifests in a gender pension gap that can reach £30,000. In July 2022, a House of Commons Committee report was presented to the UK government to raise awareness and advocate for fairness titled Menopause and the workplace.


What Can we Do to Ensure a Fairer Future

So, how do we dismantle this rigged Monopoly board? Here are a few ideas:

  • Transparency is key: Shine a light on the issue! In 2020, the Fawcette’s Society published data showing that only 31% of women agreed that their employer would tell them if their male colleagues earned more for the same work. The 69% had to reply in their male colleagues to disclose their pay or had to ensure a court case when experiencing pay discrimination. The UK government has since introduced mandatory gender pay gap reporting for companies with over 250 employees, forcing companies to be upfront about compensation.
  • Negotiate like a boss (Lady Boss): Do not be afraid to ask for what you are worth! Do your research, practice your negotiation skills, and channel your inner boss. When recruiters approach you with a new job that pays on a range, always ask for the maximum. Why would you settle for the minimum anyway!
  • Eradicate imposer syndrome: If you have a voice in your mind that think you might not deserve it, other people ‘seem’ to know more than me, or I can’t ask for that much money, my skills don’t match. Please shut the voice up. Persevere on building confidence and self-appreciation. If you believe it, they will believe it to.
  • Support for working parents: This one is for government entities and the corporate world: affordable childcare and flexible work arrangements would be discussed and implemented. These policies are game-changers for working parents, especially mothers, who are disproportionately impacted by a lack of such.
  • Support for menopause and ageism: Advocate and raise awareness. This is key to understand what menopause is, how does it affect women in the workplace and healthcare, and how can organisations cater for this group’s needs. As the number of working women over 50 is rising, this is critical to resolve to prevent unfairness to this large group of the workforce as well as close the pension gap.


The Takeaway: Equality Shouldn’t Be a Bargain

The gender pay gap isn’t just an economic issue; it’s a slap in the face to qualified women everywhere. Women deserve equal pay for equal work, not a lifetime discount. The key will remain to work together, ladies and gents, to dismantle this outdated system and create a workplace where everyone is valued for their contributions, not their gender. Remember, the future of work shouldn’t be a bargain bin – it should be a fair and thriving marketplace for all.

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