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The Pay Gap: What is it and how can we reduce it?

18th of April 2019 | Charlie Bailey

What is so confusing is the difference between the pay gap and unequal pay.

The pay gap looks at the average difference in earnings between men and women across all industries and jobs. As of June 2018, the pay gap was 18.4% for both full- and part-time work. This is why we chose to publish this post today, on the 18th of April (18.4).

Unequal pay refers to women being paid less than men for the same work. This was made illegal under the Equal Pay Act 1970, which has since been mostly superseded by Part 5, Chapter 3 of the Equality Act 2010.

According to Dr Charlotte Gascoigne, there are three major reasons behind the pay gap:

Reason #1: Men are significantly more likely to hold senior management positions.


Statistics tell us that only 7% of FTSE 100 companies have female CEOs. This figure drops to 2% when looking at FTSE 250 companies.

Grascoigne points out that this is largely due to the 20th-century pattern of men going to work, whilst women stayed at home, cooked, and cleaned, allowing men to focus on nothing but work.

She also points out that this has been exacerbated due to globalisation and always-on technology. Due to this, many senior roles have been extended to 10-12 working hours per day, making them highly impractical for many women.

Reason #2: Caring responsibilities and part-time roles are not shared equally.


A big factor when it comes to part-time roles is that they are perceived as less senior. This does not have to be the case.

We now know that over half of younger fathers would take a pay cut and work fewer hours in order to spend more time with their family.

Labelling this a woman's "choice ", therefore, not only suggests that women are responsible for their lower earnings but also disincentivises companies to take action.

Our very own Geri Palmer released a blog post on working parents just last week!

Reason #3: Women "choose " to work in low-paid roles and sectors.


The gist of Grascoigne's point here is that "traditionally feminine " skills are undervalued by society. This undervaluation leads employers to not pay jobs requiring such skills, such as nurses or teachers, as much as other jobs that require more "traditionally masculine " skills, such as surgeons or engineers.

How can we reduce it?

In recruitment we can see that employers are making a strong effort to enforce equality into the work place. However, we recognise that there is still a long way to go, as the gender pay gap is still greater than 15% across both full- and part-time work in all sectors.

The British Government has suggested a variety of actions that are deemed to be effective in reducing the gender pay gap. Some of these include:

Action #1: Include multiple women in recruitment shortlists.


When drawing up a shortlist of potential candidates, it is important for employers aim to have more than one female candidate. This increases the chances of women being hired.

Action #2: Use skill-based assessment tasks in recruitment.


When using skill-based assessment tasks in recruitment, you are more likely to focus on the ability and performance of candidates. Make sure the tasks and how they are scored is standardised in order to minimise bias.

Action #3: Use structured interviews for recruitment and promotions.


Whilst unstructured interviews do have their strengths, structured interviews are less likely to encourage unfair biases. When using structured interviews, make sure that:

Industry Champions

Whilst not suggested by the Government, it is also worth looking out for industry champions. Here are a few of our favourites!

Dame Linda Dobbs, DBE

Linda Penelope Dobbs was born in Sierra Leone on the 3rd of January 1951, to Arthur Ernest Dobbs and Lloyda Dobbs (née Johnson). She was called to the bar in 1981 and appointed as a Deputy High Court Judge in 2003. In 2004, Dobbs was appointed as a judge of the High Court. She was the first non-white person to be appointed to the senior judiciary of England and Wales.

Brenda Hale, Baroness of Richmond DBE PC

Baroness Hale, born 31st January 1945, is the President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. She was appointed on the 5th of September 2017, and sworn in on the 2nd of October 2017. She is the first woman to hold this position, and is also a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong, one of two of the first women to hold this position.

Funke Abimbola MBE

Funke is a multi-award-winning business leader, lawyer, public speaker, TV contributor, diversity leader, patron, and board member. She is currently serving as Director of Operations at Mischon de Reya's Dispute Resolution business, and, until July 2018, was the most senior black solicitor for Roche's pharmaceutical operations in the U.K., Ireland, Gibraltar, and Malta, qualifying as a solicitor in-house in 2000.

Lady Justice Sharp DBE

Lady Justice Sharp was called to the bar in 1979, became a Queen's Counsel in 1986, and a Recorder in 1998. She was appointed DBE on her appointment as a Justice of the High Court in January 2009. In 2016, she became the Vice President of the Queen's Bench Division, succeeding Sir Nigel Davis, and will become President of the Queen's Bench Division from 23rd of June, 2019, following the retirement of Sir Brian Leveson.

These women show us all that gender equality in terms of both seniority and pay is entirely achievable. They have all faced their difficulties in their careers, but should remind us all that equality is possible in law and all other industries on a daily basis.

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