A recent spate of high profile cases have thrown the question of women’s pay into sharp relief. From the BBC to Hollywood, disparities in pay between male and female workers are making headlines, and many of them make difficult reading. In January, over 500 major firms revealed their pay figures, and many more will be required to before the summer. Although there have been some instances of firms taking positive action over the gender pay gap, there is much still to do. Here are some key points every employer should consider.
Equal pay for equal value
Gender pay gaps exist at every level of business, from the boardroom to the factory floor. According to the BBC, the gender pay gap is defined as “the pay discrepancy between men and women irrespective of their job or position”. The bottom line, therefore, is that any worker who adds value to your business should receive the same pay as others who add the same value. Their gender shouldn’t change how much they are remunerated.
It ultimately makes sound business sense to reward workers equally for their contribution to your business. A valuable employee is a valuable employee.
Remember it’s the law
It is frustrating that the gender pay gap still persists, as pay discrimination on the grounds of gender was ostensibly outlawed by the Equal Pay Act of 1970. This has since been repealed and replaced with the 2010 Equality Act. In combining different types of anti-discrimination legislation the 2010 Act goes even further in putting the onus on firms to stamp out pay inequality. Unscrupulous firms have clearly found ways to circumvent the rules – perhaps by giving women subtly different job titles or different terms to their male counterparts – but the best policy is to stay on the right side of the law.
The business case
It is your moral responsibility to abide by the law. But it is not just ethically right to maintain an equal pay structure – there is also a strong business case for doing so. The advantages of cutting gender pay gaps where they exist are twofold. On the one hand you will avoid suffering reputational damage if any grievances related to unequal pay are made public, because there should be no grounds for them. On the other, you will gain a reputation as an above-board, ethical employer. Why potentially antagonise and demoralise a huge proportion of the workforce? Make positive strides over equal pay and the best job candidates – regardless of their gender – will want to work for you. As a business owner you should be looking to employ the best candidates full stop, not just the best men.
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