Inspiring Success - International Women's Day
Rebecca Wayman

Welcoming back Equal Pay Day for 2019: The business world reacts

Today (November 14) marks Equal Pay Day in the UK.

It is classed as the unofficial last pay day of the year for women - compared to their male counterparts who seemingly rack up a far greater wage. So essentially, the average woman in the UK is ‘working for free’ from today until the new year rolls in.

Equal Pay Day first came to light in 2015. Remember the major allegations between the BBC and Carrie Gracie?

Or even the recent news that presenter Samira Ahmed is suing the same company for paying her a mere sixth of what it pays Jeremy Vine, a male presenter with the same duties and role as herself.

The Fawcett Society has coined today as Equal Pay Day, and this is the first time since 2015 that we’ve seen it appear in our calendars.

So why now? The day actually comes ahead of the 2020 deadline for companies to publish figures relating to their 2019 pay - and yes, this will include gender pay gap details and bonus differences.

So with this in mind, and the fact UK companies simply cannot overlook this any longer, we spoke to a few businesspeople to get their take on the movement.

Christopher Graham, Weightmans

Christopher Graham is partner at Weightmans in Newcastle.

He said: “There are some mixed messages as to whether the gender pay gap is increasing or decreasing, depending on which measure you look at.

“What’s clear, however, is that although there is now a focus on the issue of pay parity, there is still a way to go.

“Organisations in the retail sector are now facing some of the challenges arising from equal pay claims that have been prevalent in the public sector now for over a decade.”

He went on to say that “organisations should be going beyond the requirements associated with publishing the gender pay gap figures and carrying out a more thorough equal pay audit to see whether there are underlying equal pay issues.

“Taking proactive steps like these will not only help organisations create an environment with equal opportunity, and access to fair remuneration, but also help ensure that we see Equal Pay Day retreat so much as to become a thing of the past.”

Tom Wilkinson, AXA

Tom Wilkinson is the CEO of AXA -Global Healthcare. According to AXA’s latest independent research, this could even apply to people wishing to travelling and live in other countries.

Recently, AXA found that around 62 per cent of men have earned a higher salary since becoming an expat, compared with just 53 per cent of women, depicting a significant gender divide.

Tom commented: “Taking on an international assignment often comes with a wide range of perks and benefits.

“Every expat’s priorities are different, but whatever you’re looking to get out of your time abroad, there is potential for a huge amount of both personal and professional enrichment.”

Once expats had completed assignments, half of the women surveyed said they would remain in the country, compared to just 43 per cent of the men.

Agata Nowakowska, Skillsoft

Agata Nowakowska is the area vice president at Skillsoft.

She said: “It’s clear that progress is being made towards pay equality for women, particularly in sectors open to public scrutiny.

“Just this month, the Australian women’s football team announced it would be paid the same as the men’s team - no mean feat when you consider the sums involved.

“But this is barely the tip of the iceberg. In most industries, the gender pay gap is still prevalent and there is far more work to be done.

“One of the main challenges is both conscious and unconscious bias still permeate the workplace. Conscious bias is much easier to call out with naming and shaming, but unconscious bias is much harder to address.

“Often it’s still hidden, and those holding it are completely unaware… So what’s the solution? When unconscious bias is identified in an individual, we need to address it across the entire team to eradicate the behaviour.

“This is true for any unconscious bias, from racism to remuneration inequality.”

What are your thoughts on Equal Pay Day 2019? Tweet us @Bdaily and have your say.

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