The Truth Behind UK Pay Gaps

It’s 2023, but unfortunately, we’ve still got to talk about pay gaps. Whilst we’ve obviously taken significant strides over the last few decades, the disparity is still crystal clear. In today’s article, I’m going to be discussing both gender and ethnicity pay gaps, confronting what the issues are, and both why and how they need to change.


The Gender Pay Gap 

The gender pay gap is a tale as old as time. Women have come a long way in the world of work. From not being allowed to work, to working in limited industries, to becoming ‘girl bosses’ – to discovering that even the term girl boss holds patriarchal stigma. And yet, here we are in 2023, simply fighting for equal opportunities: not to be a ‘girl boss’, but simply a boss.

The gender pay gap naturally derives from systemic inequality, whereby the value of women’s contributions in the workplace weren’t perceived as equal to their male counterparts. Some of this bias, conscious and unconscious, is reflected in the pay gap today. Some argue that not as many women apply for higher-paid jobs – however, the real question is: why is this? And where does this stem from?

Due to lack of resources and inaccuracies in data, it is often difficult to accurately report on current pay gaps. However, most recent statistics show that the median gap is 9.4% – which proves that little to no progress has been made in recent years. So, how can we help close this pay gap? As one would expect, it all begins with HR. And as a female-dominated industry, HR professionals are certainly best-placed to tackle this inequality.

First, it is crucial that HR are unbiased during the application process, ensuring that women have equal opportunities to men. If your socially-conditioned brain starts to tick away, musing about whether the job in question is more ‘male-oriented’ – stop yourself in your tracks! Give every candidate an equal opportunity – based on merit, not genetics. Also, HR professionals should try to disregard potential gaps in CVs or past salaries; if you are trying to initiate change, you need to start on a clean slate. In particular, mothers who have had time off work should never have to apologise for this – nor should their careers suffer.

Also – if there are no women in leadership positions in your company, you are unfortunately part of the problem. But not to worry – it is perfectly within your power to fix it!


The Ethnicity Pay Gap

Secondly, let’s take a long, hard look at the ethnicity pay gap. The importance of diversity within teams has been brought to the forefront of our attention in recent years – although, to be frank, it has always been important. As previously mentioned, a lack of any form of diversity within a team can cause meeting rooms to become echo chambers; you are surrounded by people with a similar background and perspective, and are, as a whole, less likely to be relevant and reactive to the world we live in.

Unfortunately, statistics have shown that employees of the Global Majority, on average, earn less than their White counterparts. Many of my above points apply; similarly, we need to fix the problem at its source. In order to be truly inclusive, companies need to ensure that all candidates receive equal opportunity – which can be enhanced by providing internships and training programmes for young people from diverse backgrounds.

Furthermore, tokenism is a big issue within UK company culture. Whilst this may be seen as an attempt to redress the balance, the true intentions behind such actions are rarely to amplify diverse voices. On the contrary, many companies simply want to keep out of the firing line on social media.

This guide highlights some key steps that employers can follow, to ensure that they are encouraging genuine diversity in the workplace – from ethnicity to gender, to class and disability – and are paving the path towards a fairer, more inclusive future… with rightful equal pay! 


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