Guest post: Gender pay gap - "Just publishing the numbers won't deliver real change"
CBI Deputy Director-General
Posted on: Wed 15-Jul-15 14:57:27
(34 comments )
On the surface, any effort to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the gender pay gap should be applauded. But is forcing businesses to publish data on discrepancies in pay the right way to go about this?
It is important to understand that a business reporting its pay rates by gender is taking an average of what all men and all women earn across the firm – regardless of the jobs they're doing and regardless of skills, experience, seniority or level of responsibility – and stating any difference between the male and female figure. It's not the same as equal pay reporting. Equal pay for equal value work is already the law and rightly so.
The gender pay gap exists for a number of complex and varied reasons. It is influenced by things firms want addressed but can't control alone, like the gender mix going into a particular role, so comparisons between firms aren't what is important. Reporting should be flexible; it needs to be about individual firms showing they're taking action - and that means being transparent in a way that genuinely reflects the position in the business. Without this flexibility, it is all too easy to misinterpret the results.
The gender pay gap is less about direct discrimination within businesses, and more a result of occupational segregation and traditional differences in how men and women have worked in the past. Publishing bald sets of numbers might help focus minds on diversity issues but, on its own, it isn't going to deliver fundamental change. To achieve real progress we need to challenge occupational stereotypes by encouraging more women into male-dominated industries and investing in better careers advice.
At the moment, too many areas of work – often those with the best pay potential – are seen as male preserves, with women steered away from choices that would give them higher-paid options. This is utterly wrong and it needs to be addressed wherever it's found – starting in the classroom.
At the moment, too many areas of work – often those with the best pay potential – are seen as male preserves, with women steered away from choices that would give them higher-paid options. Better careers advice will help remove the gender stereotyping that encourages girls to think "that job's not for me, because I want a family and flexibility", or "engineering's a man's world but there are loads of women in HR". This is utterly wrong and it needs to be addressed wherever it’s found – starting in the classroom.
Firms also have an important role to play in exciting young people about the range of careers available and tackling stereotypes in schools. We need more girls studying science and technology subjects, while boys shouldn't shy away from careers in caring professions that may have traditionally been viewed as for women.
Diversity targets have been shown to deliver. It's an approach that has worked very well for increasing the numbers of women on company boards. This week, it was announced that Lord Davies' 2011 voluntary target of getting women into at least a quarter of boardroom seats at the UK's biggest firms by 2015 has been met. But we must not let our guard drop. Progress has relied on making sure new appointments are diverse, and this must continue as women appointed since the Davies report begin to end their terms on boards and replacements are sought.
The best businesses recognise the value of having a diverse board and a wider workforce that reflects society and their customers. The ones that thrive are those that seek to harness the talents of all. We've long argued that a target for narrowing the gender pay gap is part of the answer, but to deliver fundamental change we need to understand that this alone does not form a solution.
The Great Business Debate: Because perceptions of how companies recruit and treat staff influence what people think about business more generally, these are issues at the heart of CBI's in-business campaign The Great Business Debate - which they worked with Mumsnet on. Read more here, and listen to a podcast recorded at a joint panel event here.
By Katja Hall
Hi Katja, you are absolutely right, women are more likely to be in lower paid jobs in my organisation (FTSE 100, financial services) and also the gender mix becomes more and more skewed to males as you move up the management grades and in the higher-paying roles, women are not progressing as far or at the same pace. These are systemic issues that companies have to want to address and we must take our collect eyes off the ball.
You are wrong though in saying publishing this data won't help at all - my company is one that chose to start reporting this year before being forced to and at my pay review this year I received a substantial rise, for no reason. Clearly I was underpaid compared to male peers and the decision to publish the stats caused my employer to rectify (or go some way towards rectifying) the issue. It's a small step but I will take it thanks! and I hope other females will be experiencing the same as a result of this policy.
You are right that we need to challenge these assumptions over jobs, starting in the classroom, but even by that age children have imbibed the idea that certain jobs aren't for them.
This is down to many things: gendered toy marketing (science kits for boys, nurses kits for girls), adult expectations and beliefs about their capabilities, as well as what children see on TV.
It's a huge problem.
^^ nail. Head.
The gender bias starts early. Pink princess culture and 'boys toys' and it goes from there. The subtle socialisation to be 'nice'. Silencing of women's opinions with words like 'bossy' and 'nagging' ( ever heard a man be called bossy? Nope, me neither.) You want to do biochemistry/civil engineering at uni? But you're a girl! Be nice in this work meeting, make us a coffee, take the minutes. Wear high heels to the symposium. Don't express your opinion or you're one of those evil, shrill feminists.
It pervades everything. It means that 'women's work' is less valued. It means that it's more often the woman going part time to look after the kids. It means that she stays home when they are sick.
It needs a fundamental change to fix this. It CAN be done. I now live in Sweden. The difference here is palpable and it starts from day one. You see a baby in a buggy and you've no idea if the long haired tot is a boy or a girl. They dress similarly. No pink princess culture, no gendering of toys. Equal parental leave. Subsidised quality childcare. Men taking parental leave, staying home with sick kids etc.
Until we tackle all of this, the gender pay gap is inevitable.
I earn more than my husband by the way ;)
Over 35 years ago when I was still only a very innocent preteen girl in school I was told again and again that men and women are equal. BUT at home it wasn't. Later I had a job then at work it wasn't. I think it s important to start in school not just to work on girls. We have to work on boys to accept and see their female counterparts as equal human beings and value each other's differences. Also it has to start from home parents should give boys and girls the equal opportunity to develop their interests whether it s flower arrangement or boxing. Also boys and girls should expected to help with the same amount of housework not just or more from girls.
Completely agree. Anyone can just fob off the answer from this with "of course the average of 10 secretaries/ clerks + token-board-woman come out a lot lower than rest of board + 50 sales guys + 100 operations guys". No one will take any action based on these numbers, no matter how heinous the gap is as it's a junk number.
More interesting would be average pay of men/ women within the same pay grade/ scale AND the ratio men:women at those levels. I know what grade women drop off at in my company and it isn't board level, it's about 4 levels down from there. If they started focusing on the level the losses start at, they might start pulling through a few cohorts of developed/ experienced women then they can stop whining about how there are "no decent women anywhere to be found" for their succession planning. It's equality of opportunity and development that doesn't exist at the moment, not pure pay/ benefits.
Cut and Paste C4ro's post, but with a bit in the middle.
Step one is to ensure where people are doing the same role, they are paid equally (for the given experience), ie a bloshy man who asks for pay rises doesn't get more than his female counterpart who accepts what she is (or isn't) given.
Step two is to encourage everyone to broaden their ideas about roles suitable for boys and girls, so that girls get the oportunity to consider the boys jobs, which are often better paid.
Step 3 is to make the main care giver not default to the Mother. It should be divided equally. The only think I can think of that Mummy can do that Daddy can't is breastfeed.
PS: C4ro: do you work with me? We also see a massive drop off in women a grade or so above me, but going the other way, progressivly more women.
The thing is, Katja, that the law on equal pay for work of equal value is being broken, left right and centre.
As someone who has just given her trade union permission to use her case as one of a set of cases to be put forward as part of an equal pay claim, I can assure you that it's not just that there's a gender pay discrepancy because women are socialized to go into lower paid jobs than men. There are still many workplaces - mine is one - where women are paid less than men for doing the same job. (In the case of my workplace, it's cock-up rather than conspiracy - a historical legacy of long pay scales to reach "going rate for the job" which disadvantaged women. And it's fair to say management are as keen as the workforce to fix this, but need the union to bring the legal case to give them the leverage they need with the people who hold the financial power.)
I'm in favour of organisations having to publish pay audits, not just with the average across the organisation as a whole, but with the detailed breakdown by job type.
And I'd be prepared to bet good money that any woman working somewhere where it is contractually forbidden to reveal your pay and conditions to your colleagues (much of the finance sector for instance) is in a workplace where women are on average paid less than men. I'd like to see that sort of gagging clause in contracts of employment made illegal.
I disagree with most of the OP and think it's very naive.
How can you make a sweeping assertion about the prevalence of direct discrimination when it is hidden, undetectable and thus immeasurable?
30,000 women a year lose their jobs due to maternity discrimination but this isn't even mentioned even though it has a huge long term effect on the gender pay gap!
There is also no mention on the fees now applied to employment tribunals which prevent sex discrimination in employment cases being brought. It has effectively nullified the equal pay and sex discrimination acts.
It also has a very 'victim blaming' tone. As usual it's the women's fault for picking the 'wrong' careers. There is no analysis of why as a society we value jobs that men do over the jobs that women do.
Sure, we could have 50/50 engineers but someone's still going to have to change the incontinance pads of our ageing population. Until men start to 'choose' this career the burden is still going to fall to women whether paid or unpaid.
There is also no mention of how the 'second shift' impacts on women's ability to progress in their careers. Not a day goes by on mumsnet without another thread by a woman who is in paid work but is still bearing the brunt of childcare and housework. The gender pay gap is going to exist as long as the male partners of women in paid work see unpaid work as her responsibility.
Exactly Athens you only need to look in Relationships and AIBU to see where the problem is.
Well one of the problems. I think the Cinderella syndrome is also a reason. I've known quite a few women who wait to be discovered in their careers because we've not been trained to blow our own trumpet.
But that isn't going to change with legislation. It needs a seismic shift in our cultural attitudes.
Gender stereotyping needs addressing urgently. Ive lost count of the number of times Ive been told to not worry my pretty little head about it when Ive enquired about strategy at board meetings (there wasnt one and the comment was to deflect attention away from that fact). I attempted to get into IT 10 years ago and was told that i wouldnt fit in as i was a 'fit female' by the men in positions of power.
Until we educate or remove these 'holders of power' nothing will change. It's cultural within the business world. Im approaching 50 now and have been told for the last seven years that the Board are considering giving me a Directorship. I fear that unless I grow a pair, I'll still be waiting in 5 years time. I have the title 'Director' but no power or shareholding.
The eye opener for me was when I was trained in Full Economic Costing research grant applications at an elite university.
We had to learn to use an online form that automatically populated the application with salary details imported from the HR system.
As I entered him into the system, a bloke with fewer qualifications than me and considerably less experience, who had elbowed his way in to the department, and appropriated my team, whilst attempting sexual harassment on a business trip just for good measure, was on 10K more than me.
I reported both things, I was immediately made redundant. I took them to a tribunal, I won an unfair dismissal claim outright, I got some miserly compensation, it took me ages to get my career and finances back on track. Meanwhile the bloke concerned continued to be promoted and arse about doing what he pleased.
This is frankly the routine shit many people have to deal with. So I don't have much time for people who bleat about women not applying for jobs, women working in poorly paid fields, women not saying anything, and so on. Frankly discrimination is everywhere and we need to annihilate it now.
I agree that this won't solve the issue of women discouraged from "male" careers, from not being given the same chances and informal sponsorship and mentoring.
But as has been pointed out, it will help with equal pay for equal work - in a previous job, I got an unexpected 26% payrise, following a pay audit of the department (when I'd questioned my pay a couple of years before, I'd been told that discussing pay was a sackable offence, end of discussion.) Anything that makes this sort of discrepancy more visible has to help - in my current role, I think I'm paid fairly in comparison with my comparators, but I don't know - but I'm not so unsure that I'm prepared to go through all the hassle of going through formal channels and stirring up the whole department (at the moment).
If they have to publish numbers, it should at least stop the direct discrimination (four decades after the equal pay act came in), and in time, that should lead to other questions about more indirect discrimination - which is cumulative, and also more difficult to prove. It starts with someone getting on a high-profile project, through which they gain great experience - then another project comes up, and they get that one, too, because they've got the experience and the other one doesn't. So it becomes true that they are the more suitable person, mostly because they were given the opportunities to gain experience, whereas others weren't, even if they would have been just as capable.
Absolutely! Pay transparency would be a good start. How can we even compare if to talk about our pay is a sackable offence?
I'm lucky enough to live in a country where everyone's income tax is public. I've compared within country and I am fairly paid. But then I live somewhere where this is expected.
BUT, I suspect some of my team in other countries aren't, and I'm NOT ALLOWED to see their pay! In my company only HR, payroll and director levels see this. I instigated a pay review this past year because I suspected one female employee wasn't being paid correctly - she got a 24% increase so obviously she wasn't. None of the men got one.
Cracking down on differential pay due to gender within pay grades should be the easy bit. It's measureable and fixable. Dealing with attitudes is a much harder task. But pay reviews are a start. Why aren't these mandatory every x years? If you want to retain your talent, you need to pay fairly.
Interesting that research by NAO showed that we are earning about 1% more than our male counterparts between the ages of 20 and 40. The factual Feminist has done a good video on this on youtube but she is talking about America so not sure it will equal what happens here.
The issue in specialisations is massive. A Pediatric doctor against a Neurosurgeon both are in the medical profession but we are more likely to be pediatric which pays less. Okay this is a really obvious example but if you claim 2 doctors are not earning the same this is the reason why. It is a cultural issue not a systemic issue from companies. Unless we change our expectations from work idiots will claim massive wage gap when in fact the issue is career choice.
I think it's incredibly misguided to say that "The gender pay gap is less about direct discrimination within businesses, and more a result of occupational segregation and traditional differences in how men and women have worked in the past."
This misses the point right off of the starting block. The CBI might not be an environment where discrimination happens, and I can say that confidently as I've worked there myself (hi, Katja! You wouldn't remember me though!) and it actually is a great place to work. But since then I've worked in a fair number of organisations were both direct and indirect sex discrimination is absolutely rife: from outright misogynist comments at lunch, in meetings and in interviews; to the usual indirect, unthinking "you're not quite like us, not one of the chaps" kind of discrimination. So yes, it does still exist - just about everywhere. That's the point of structural privilege - those who have it can't see it even as they exercise their powers to consolidate it, and structural discrimination gets enforced in a load of subtle and not-so-subtle ways that it's in the interests of lots of people to pretend aren't happening. Occupational segregation happens because people - largely men, but not always - make very specific decisions about who they hire, promote, pay better and mentor better, all the time.
The same happens with race. (It would sound a bit nonsensical to argue that the reason racial pay discrimination happens in many employment sectors is just that there are "traditional differences" in how white and non-white people historically prefer to work, no? As if you're less likely to be paid equally as an Asian person in management consulting primarily because the stats are skewed by all those corner shopkeepers who have historically not worked in professional jobs...)
No, the reason is widespread, still existing, discrimination, which our workplace cultures are so steeped in that even in sectors which are heavily feminised (e.g. publishing, teaching, healthcare), just look at who is disproportionately represented in positions of power and managerial responsibility. Don't we all know the schools where most of the teachers are women but the management team are primarily men; the publishing companies where most of the staff are women but the directors are largely male; the male colleagues who are promoted despite having less experience; the boss who is far less competent than his female staff; the incredibly competent and talented female colleagues whose careers stall after having children not because they don't work as hard but because they get sidelined by management, and so on? It's because women are actively not getting paid and promoted in the same way as men, and not because they don't want to be, or because they all want to be off having nice part-time jobs to fit around school pick-up. Women get forced into secondary roles because of sex discrimination, not the other way around.
What's the result of Sweden introducing non gender specific 'family friendly' policies making it easier for either parent to spend more time at home with their children.....? Even less woman that notoriously child 'unfriendly' USA reach the top. Why because its self selecting
Beware the effects of forced social engineering...it may not reap the results you imagine
Underneath all the societal pressures were still animals. Take a look at our primate cousins. I don't think you will find that the males and females perform exactly the same roles save for carrying infants and breast feeding.
Simply put the hypothesis that the 'gender gap' is 100% explained alone by any combination of the patriarchy or societal gender conditioning is a broken flush. Humans, like most animals, display a significant degree of sexual dimorphism which effect both our physical attributes AND our behaviours and life choices.
To the best of our ability we should support equality of opportunity but would should not be so naïve to believe that this will result in equality of outcome...
Last time I looked, there weren't any chimpanzees in my workplace, Calzart, and (see Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender, or Lise Elliott's Pink Brain, Blue Brain) there's sod all in the way of statistically robust, reproducible evidence to suggest any significant dimorphism in cognitive performance. I'm interested in the specific situation in my workplace where women are paid on average 10.6% less than men, and these differences persist even when you compare like with like, i.e. women and men with the same job description and level of seniority (and to pre-empt the obvious, that's comparing full time equivalent salaries, not part time salaries, and we have quite a lot of men working part time to fit round childcare committments). You can't explain that away by saying the women have chosen different career paths.
Calzart you definitely need to read delusions of gender!
Lurcio you don't seem to dismiss sexual dimorphism in humans outright just claim that the sources you quote claim to refute significant cognitive differences.
You would clearly be wrong if you were trying to say the there is no significant sexual dimorphism in humans (primarily observable in the physical characteristics of the groups when taken as whole populations). The point about primates was clearly to show that without human social conditioning our closest animal relatives do not act with no significant cognitive differences between genders. Still way to miss the point and erect a straw person with your jibe about chimps.
You seen to be suffering from an attempt to construct an argument out of (badly sourced) authority by pointing me to a book, a commercial book written to sell to the masses and need I say to an audience probably already supportive to the point of view raised by the author despite any evidence to the contrary.
I note you could not find an explanation for the central crux of my previous post.... Which is... Women in what is supposed to be one of the most female friendly countries in the world when it comes to choice and access to careers are underperforming their counterparts in one of the wests worse countries by the same metric when it comes to the amount that manage to reach the top of their respective careers.
Much like the response of any bunch of dogmatic zealot certain parts of Swedish society do not accept the obvious conclusions and insist on ever more extreme measures being implemented until the 'right' result (in their minds) is achieved. This is not the realm of sensible rational people!
So here are my questions
1) Do you accept that there is any significant sexual dimorphism in humans?
2) Do you accept that there is significant observable cognitive sexual dimorphism in other animals including mammals and more closely to us the sub set of primates?
3) If not why do we seem to observe the significantly different behaviour we see in these animals between sexes without any human conditioning?
4) If you accept the wider significant animal sexual dimorphism why does this not effect humans (who are of course animals to by literal classification)?
5) Care to explain or post some quotes explain what we see in Scandinavia as per the previous link?
calzart - you are clearly not a biologist. You are confusing "behavioural" with "cognitive". There may be behavioural differences between genders in primate cultures, but that does not mean these are "cognitive" differences.
I might shave my legs, breastfeed and wear my hair long but those are behavioural and physiological features of human sex difference, not cognitive ones. (Unless I breastfeed with my brain rather than my breasts or women have hardwired lady brains that dictate their preferences for body hair...?) Neither of those features is observable in, for example, any report I write at work, or my ability to use a spreadsheet. (In fact, without my name on my work or an email, my boss can't even tell it's written by a woman at all! Amazing!!)
Just a point from earlier in the thread: it hasn't been legal to prevent employees in the UK from discussing pay with colleagues since 2010, if they are discussing to establish whether there are differences in pay.
Calzart Two books actually, the second of which is written by a neuroscientist, Elliott, whose primary area of interest is brain plasticity in early development and who provides extremely thorough references from the peer-reviewed literature (as does Fine, incidentally). But nice try at dismissing them as "A commercial book designed to sell to the masses."
1. Yes, of course there's dimorphism - men are on average bigger, stronger and faster. The interesting thing to ask about is the d-value for the two populations (male and female) - roughly speaking the difference in means divided by the product of the standard deviations (if you want a more detailed definition, look it up, it's not my job to teach you statistics - but what I give is a good enough rough outline). Height is a characteristic which shows quite a large d-value, i.e. if all someone told you was the height of someone, you could make a reasonable stab at guessing whether they were male or female (but you'd still be wrong often enough that only a fool would bet on it). For cognitive differences (spatial reasoning, verbal ability etc.) hardly any of the studies show anything other than very small d-values and those that do show up, it's unclear (a) whether these differences are statistically significant and (b) whether they're down to nature or nurture given how plastic the brain is. (Incidentally I was quite taken aback on reading a paper on sex differences to find the authors completely conflated statistical significance - a measure to do with sample statistics - with d-values - which tell you something interesting about the population statistics. On discussing this with a psychologist friend he told me this is a fairly routine failing in a lot of the published literature).
2. You'd have to tell me what you meant by this. I'm struggling to imagine what sort of cognitive difference you'd measure in say chimpanzees that looks different between males and females.
3. Of course there are differences in behaviour in some areas - to do with mating. These vary massively between species and the degree of variability between the sexes varies massively between species. So simply saying "I can see some obvious examples of sexual dimorphism in some areas of behaviour in some animal species" tells us exactly jack shit about humans. I'm still struggling to see what the hell the fact that, say, male stags are bigger than hinds and engage in the rut every autumn has to do with my ability (to do scientific research) and why I'm paid 10% less than my colleagues for doing the same job.
4. See above - animals vary in their degree of sexual dimorphism and the behaviours in which you see sexual dimorphism. So pointing to how deer, or chimpanzees or sea slugs do things tells you very little about human behaviour. And in any case, even if it is the case that less women than men want to be, say, neuroscientists, that doesn't justify paying the women neuroscientists less than the male ones. Nor does it justify paying, say, speech therapists (predominantly female) less than psychologists or pharmacists (predominantly male).
5. I'm not Scandinavian so have no first-hand knowledge of the system there.
Can I ask you some questions?
1. Even if we were to suppose that there was an underlying difference between the abilities of men and women to do, say, maths, would that justify tailoring the education system and selection system at university and for jobs to favour men, to the detriment of the (for argument's sake) small minority of women who were good at maths and wanted to do it professionally? Because it seems to me that a lot of people's thinking is predicated on the idea that the probability density functions for ability across populations look like delta functions - as soon as someone claims to have identified a difference between the means of the populations (and not reported the d-value) lay-people jump to the conclusion that what's been established is that all men can do X and no woman can, or all women can do Y and no man can. When in fact even where you can point to clear examples of sexual dimorphism (height, running speed), the distributions of ability for each sex overlap to a huge extent.
2. Looking round at jobs which probably take the same amount of training, the same level of education, and are of similar importance to society as a whole, historically there seems to have been a general tendency to pay the male dominated jobs more than the female dominated jobs (hospital porters versus hospital cleaners, for instance). Why do you think this is?
3. Do you think it's right that I and my female colleagues are paid 10% less for doing exactly the same job as our male colleagues?
You see, for you (I'm guessing you're male) this is all a nice intellectual exercise in trying to establish that I'm some sort of crazy idealist who wants to force society into a mould it cannot possibly fit (when your assumption that the way society is set up at the moment is the natural order of things seems to be dubious at best). For me on the other hand it's about the practical matter of having to fight to get to do the school subjects I wanted because they weren't the traditionally female choices, even though they were what I was good at and wanted to do, and about my take-home pay at the end of the month, and why I'm paid less than a man for the same job. You're trying to play the typical "women are paid less because they choose less demanding jobs and are less ambitious card" in the face of all evidence that they're actually paid less for doing the same jobs and that where there are jobs which have traditionally been "women's work" they are (for some entirely accidental reason no doubt) valued less than men's work even if they are equally demanding and the outcomes equally valuable.
Apparently there is no pay gap in STEM jobs! (science, technology, engineering and math)
So get your daughters in there!
Based on my current narrow outlook I have a theory it's partly a supply/demand thing - in female-weighted industries, the typical male 'critical thinking' outlook is in short supply so is more valued. Whereas in STEM the stereotypically female soft skills are rarer so more valued.
Of course my outlook might change when I get back from maternity leave and watch my career go down the pan :-o
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