The Equal Pay Scandal: Latest Revelations

Labour Party

As the deadline for the reporting of gender pay inequalities gets closer (4 April) The Guardian has produced a useful tool which follows the latest companies to report its figures. It’s excellent weekly coverage offers an overview of the companies that have reported.

Last week some 2000 companies published its figures leaving 7000 companies yet to report.

The Guardian itself published its own figures which showed a median hourly gap of 12.1%. It’s editorial roles its just 7.4% but for non-editorial roles the gap widens to 17.2%. But the Group is being proactive and pledged to reduce the gap to attain a 50:50 gender pay balance in the top half of the organotin in the next five years. It is also planning to have in place mentoring and women in leadership schemes to help achieve its targets.

Other news groups also published figures. Perhaps the most significant was ITN which had a gender pay gap of 19.6% it was its bonus gap which was most staggering: 77%.

And in other sectors, the “big four” accountancy firms have re polished their results after facing criticism that the figures did not include partners pay, therefore not giving an accurate reflection of the gap.

You can read in more detail the latest Guardian update here.

And while on the subject of the gender pay gap, news has emerged which reveals that Wimbledon champion and Tennis commentator, Martina Navratilova, received 10x less for commentating on Wimbledon than her male counterpart John McEnroe for doing similar work.

The news comes ahead of a broadcast for BBC panorama due to air tonight ‘The Equal Pay Scandal’, and it details how the Corporation had told her she was earning a comparable amount to him, but subsequently found him on a list of BBC earners in the £150,000 – £199,000 bracket after the broadcaster published the figures it pays its top earners.

For commentating on the two-week Wimbledon championship Martina says she receives £15,000 while John McEnroe earns £150,000 for doing the same role. This is a shocking revelation. Surely the BBC will act swiftly to rectify this inexcusable situation? In its defence the BBC says that Martina earns less than John McEnroe because she appears on TV less than him. But as she herself said: “10x less?” Probably not.



UK businesses accused of understating gender pay gap

Labour Party

A loophole which allows firms to report favourably on how male and female members of staff are remunerated has been exposed. With less than a month to go before all firms with more than 250 employees must publish its figures on female and male pay, it threatens to jeopardise the entire project and most importantly impedes the ability to make sensible and equitable changes.

All British companies with 250 employees must report their remuneration packages by 4 April. However, some firms have reportedly used their partnership structures to disguise and under report their own gender pay gap figures.

Those who have reported their figures so far include Linklaters and Ernst and Young. Their figures show a much smaller gender pay gap than other companies such as Barclays Bank. However, some of the firms where the figures indicated a smaller discrepancy are accused of reporting in a way which gives a more favourable picture than really is the case. The loophole has allowed them to distinguish between partners (in law firms for example) and lawyers. Only the latter group was classed as employees and therefore only those figures were reported.

Although the way in which the firms are reporting is within the letter of the law it’s not in the spirit. Taking advantage of the loophole distorts figures and means that any ability to scrutinise the situation and ultimately improve the gender pay gap is made more difficult, if not impossible. To address the issue properly the figures must be a true reflection. It’s not rocket science!

It’s a real shame and it doesn’t help either the Government to address the problem, or business leaders to rectify the gap. It’s pointless to hide behind a mask of misleading figures.

Some are calling on the Equalities Commission to sanction those who report in such a way. There may well be a case for this because the fundamental problem which is that women are being paid less than men for doing the same work is wrong and it can’t be addressed properly if the reporting is so skewed that it doesn’t represent the real problem.


Two thirds of the gender pay gap is unexplained- says ONS

Labour Party

Yesterday I wrote about the corporate firm Citigroup and how it is championing pay equity after it reported the smallest pay gap on record. The news was positive and provided some inspiration for other city firms to aspire to.

However, today the news is more sobering and less optimistic after reports from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found the gender pay gap is alive and kicking.

Two thirds of Britain’s gender pay gap is ‘unexplained’ The ONS warned. This means the usual explanations given for the pay gap such as women working part time and the relative lack of senior women in the work place does not apply for almost two thirds of the pay gap.

When the ONS conducted its research in October 2017 the gender pay gap was 9.1%. They were able to account for a proportion of this gap and could cite reasons given above, i.e. more men in senior roles which attract a higher salary and more women working part time.

But when they adjusted the figures to take account of this they found they could only account for 36.1% of the median hourly pay gap, which meant the rest of it (63.9% was unexplained). While the ONS said it can’t all be down to pay discrimination it would nevertheless form part of the explanation.

Of the 36.1% it could account for 23% related to occupational differences the male and female workforce. Some 9% was attributed to the fact that more women work part time.

While overall the gap has fallen slightly since 2016 (down from 9.4% in 2016 to 9.1% in 2017) and is now at the lowest recorded percent since the ONS started calculating the figures in 1997 there is still huge work to be done before this gap can be closed completely.

I have previously called for mandatory quotas for women on executive boards which would go some way to reducing the figure- as the ONS figures highlight part of the problem is a lack of women in senior and leadership roles. It is not acceptable that a gap is in existence at all and certainly not in 2018 one that sits at just under 10%.

Citigroup leads the way on gender pay

gneder pay, Labour Party

I have lost count of the number of times I have written about the gender pay gap- the need to close it, the requirement for quotas to close it quickly, the levels of disparity, the lack of government intervention I could go on.

The revelation in Hollywood that the actor Michelle Williams would only receive expenses for re filming scenes while her male counterpart was to receive over a million dollars for doing the same thing was another blow to the debate over equity in gender pay. Some will probably argue that the disparity wasn’t a result of discrimination but the fault of her lawyers and agents who didn’t ensure her contract was water tight. Either way there was a huge disparity and it reminds us that all areas of employment are affected.

And as we begin 2018 so requirements for companies with 250+ members of staff to disclose its gender pay reporting comes into effect. And paving the way is Citigroup; its disclosure of the gender (and ethnic) pay gap published today revealed a gap of just 1% – reportedly the smallest of it’s kind. It was based on analysis of the company’s workforce in the UK as well as the US and Germany.

The disclosure followed sustained pressure from the company’s shareholder Arjuna Capital which told Citigroup it would be forced to disclose its gender pay gap and produce solid policies to reduce it.

The shareholders, Arjuna, said that Citigroups revelations moved it into a leadership on pay equity. Its spokesperson said: “This is a tipping point for the Wall Street Banks. We expect women will not only receive the pay they deserve at Citi, the company will reap the benefits of talent acquisition and retention so that more women can move into leadership. Other leading banks can either follow Citi’s example on gender pay or risk further laggard status on issues of concern to women.”

And in a note to staff the head of human resources at Citigroup detailed exactly how it had gone about assessing and addressing pay equity. He explained: “We have long had a number of efforts in place to help us adhere to that principle [the importance of pay equity]. This year, we expanded on those efforts to assess pay at Citi when comparing women to men, and US minorities to non-minorities.

“[Citi] was making appropriate increases to help close the gaps for both women and US minorities…We will also adjust compensation for other individuals where the analysis determined increases were warranted,” he added.

I will watch closely to see results of other companies’ disclosures which they must do this year (if they have over 250 employees), but it seems that Citigroup is making real efforts to address both ethnic and gender pay gaps.

The gender pay gap is simply not acceptable

Labour Party

It was announced, late last week that companies with more than 250 employees must reveal the pay gap that exists within their company between men and women.

Some 8,000 employers are affected by this and those who fail to address the gender pay gap will be named and shamed in a published league table. Employers must calculate and record the figure from April 2017 and by April 2018 the first tables will be published.

Women in the UK still earn on average 20% less than men so it’s quite clear that this must be addressed and urgently. As Labour’s shadow and equalities minister, Kate Green, pointed out if we continue at the current pace it will be another 47 years before any kind of equality is reached. It’s simply not good enough.

I hear concerns of businesses that the tables could become nothing more than a ‘box ticking’ exercise. But the reports will be detailed and businesses and organisations will be required to break these down into pay ranges which will reveal where gaps are at their widest.

Businesses will also be forced to publish their figures on their company websites and senior executives will have to personally ‘sign off’ on the annual figures.

While this announcement goes to some lengths to challenge such blatant discrimination it is a real shame that not a single figure will be released for another two years when reporting becomes mandatory.

It’s not a case of embarrassing ‘bad’ employers, as some argue, rather it forces them to consider a form of discrimination that may not even be a conscious decision for them. Not all employers are bad but it does give them a wakeup call.

Women and men must be seen as equal in the workplace and this really should be happening today. As I’ve said before, closing the pay gap is good for business it encourages talented women who may not have considered doing so before to seek to move into positions of greater responsibility.

And knowledge is power. Without these tables how else can are we able to get a true reflection of the scale of the problem and therefore look at what action is needed to address it.

The TUC wants companies who fail in this area to be fined. While this is not something under consideration in this country, the situation in France where this is in place has had un-intended consequences with some companies prepared to pay the fines instead of addressing the issue of the gender pay gap for which they are being fined.

As a first step reporting is encouraging and should be welcomed, but it may not go far enough and the biggest concern is that the gender pay gap continues to exist for many more generations yet.

A host of packages are needed to change the culture of women being paid less than men and this includes encouraging more girls to study subjects such as Maths and Science as well as introducing mandatory quotas for women on company boards, something I have campaigned for a long time. Without this change will be slow and at a pace that for many women is rightly unacceptable.

How is Europe tackling the gender pay gap?

Labour Party

Yesterday I wrote an article for Labour List, which set out what the European Union is doing to tackle the gender pay gap. It is recognised that from the start of this week until December 31 women effectively work for free due to pay inequalities between men and women.

You can read my article in full below.

It could not be more apparent (or obvious) that there is a gender pay gap in existence. A recent calculation carried out by the Fawcett Society found that from the start of this week until the end of the year women will effectively work for free. It was a contentious revelation with some denouncing the very idea as preposterous. But the Fawcett Society calculation does illustrate the issue of the gender pay gap which at the end of 2015, shockingly, remains unresolved.

As a Labour representative in Europe and Labour’s spokesperson in Europe for gender and equality I have worked for a long time to address the issue of gender and pay. Equality between men and women is a fundamental value which lays the foundations of the European Union. The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the EU treaties, and the European Parliament takes the issue of a gender pay gap increasingly seriously.

However, the reality is that we are a long way from achieving any form of parity. The average hourly wage for women in Europe is 16.3% lower than it is for men. This equates to women working for free for 59 days each year.

One of the most notable moves by the European Union was to introduce for the first time a dedicated Commissioner for women, at the start of the current mandate last year Commissioner Vera Jourova the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality is also taking the issue seriously. She stated in a speech earlier this month that urgent action was needed to tackle pay inequalities.

Meanwhile a consultation undertaken by the European Commission, the results of which were published in November, found that equality between men and women and the gender pay gap was the most urgent inequality that the European Union must address. Commissioner Jourova is clearly concerned and in response to this said: “At the current pace, the gender pay gap is declining so slowly that we will need to wait another 70 years to achieve equal pay – that’s not one generation, but two”.

There is support across the Commission for the issue, and Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission declared in a speech delivered in New York in September: “I am a feminist.” He said to the audience: “We tend to think of gender progress as a straight line. Some countries are lagging behind, but everyone’s moving in the right direction. In the end we’ll all get there. It’s a natural evolution – it’s happening by itself. Well, it’s not.”

Not only is a gender pay gap unjustified and unacceptable but the consequences are life long. The cumulative effect of the pay gap means women’s pensions are affected with calculations suggesting that women’s pensions are 39% less than men’s. Women need to have equal access to the workplace for as long as men in order to close the pension pay gap. This can be achieved by providing opportunities for women to enjoy their careers for the same length of time as men. We should be able to reach a situation where, if women choose, they are not forced to leave the labour market for lengthy periods in order to be the primary carers. This means encouraging men to take on their share of familial responsibilities, among other measures.

The Commission is seeking to address this very issue. In August it introduced a road map, known as New Start to Address the Challenges of Work-life Balance Faced by Working Families; it hopes to identify ways to combat the low participation of women in the labour market.

As well as looking at low participation of women in the labour market, the ‘new start’ initiative seeks to find ways to help parents or those with dependent relatives to find a better balance between their caring and professional responsibilities.

The programme will also seek to tackle the issue of affordable childcare and rigid working arrangements as well as the absence of incentives for men to take on more childcare responsibilities.

It’s not just a cultural shift required, legislatively there is also work which needs to be done. While legislation does exist which is meant to protect women in areas of un-equal pay there are problems with it being outdated and also concerns that its poor implementation and lack of thorough enforcement by member state governments has rendered it obsolete.

Earlier this year the European Parliament voted to adopt a report which examined the implementation of the EU Directive on equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in employment. The report found that the existing legislation had ‘reached its limits’ and stressed the urgent need for it to be updated.

The report also searched ways to overcome the problem of unequal pay and identified wage transparency as one effective tool to combat this. Mandatory wage transparency would also arm existing employees with knowledge concerning their own pay and benefits package but also provide the basis of evidence for victims who are seeking to initiate discrimination cases.

The report also recommended that there could be a complete overhaul of the existing directive. Such a move could include the introduction of things such as wage transparency and wage audits. It could also include other specific measures such as changing the burden of proof principle in cases where there are claims of alleged sex discrimination.

It is shocking that despite more than 40 years of legislation that the existence of a gender pay gap is so prominent and so obvious.

Equal Pay Day?

Labour Party

Today is Equal Pay Day, so how depressing to learn that the gender pay gap has increased. The organisers of the day calculated that for every 12 months a man works, women will have to work for 15 months to earn the same amount. Or how about this statistic; from today until the New Year women will effectively work for free (for the next 57 days) as a result of the gender pay gap.

It is more than 40 years after the Equal pay act and women are still earning less than men. And this year it widened for the first time in five years by .9%.

The economy has clearly had an effect on this gap, affecting women adversely of course. If we look back to the previous government it closed by a third between 1997 and 2010 in the UK. But it since plateaued and is now back on the rise.

One of the problems is how we organise our labour market and make our childcare arrangements. Women are disadvantaged in every way after having children yet there are so many more things we can do to achieve a fairer more balanced market which doesn’t disadvantage women.

It’s deeply embarrassing, frustrating and offensive that a gap not only still exists but has widened. And what message does this send to young women. What about their aspirations?

Significant action needs to be taken to address this stark gap. The Labour Party has said that companies should be required by law to publish full details of the difference in pay between men and women. The Party is calling for a vote to change the policy and to get big companies to publish their pay gap.

A Labour government will introduce the compulsory scheme for companies with 250 or more employees if it wins the next election.

Further action should be required by those companies who publish their difference in pay; they should be urged to also publish targets showing how they will seek to reduce the gap.

UK gender pay gap worsens

Labour Party

“Currently, there’s no country in the entire world where a woman earns as much as a man for doing the same job,” began the report from CNN. It was depressing to then go on to read the prediction from the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest survey which also stated that it will take another 81 years for the gender pay gap to close.

In the UK the wage gap sits at 66%, meaning it failed to come within the top 20 in all of the four categories the report measures- economy, education, health and politics. UK has actually fallen in the Global Gender Gap Report rankings, falling from 18th to 26th place, its lowest overall score since 2008.

Unsurprisingly countries from Northern Europe did well overall. The top four on the list Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden remained unchanged from the 2012 and 2013 reports. Some middle income and developing countries entered the list above the UK including, Nicaragua, Rwanda and the Philippines.

The WEF said the UK’s drop in its overall rating this year “was chiefly attributable to a significantly lower score in ‘economic participation’, which measures attributes such as the ratios of women in the workforce, wage equality for similar work done by men, and the number of women in senior roles.”

The WEF found that: “[In the economic participation subsets the UK] appears to remain some way off, with the country ranking 48th in terms of both labour force participation and wage equality and 66th for estimated earned income.

The report also added that the UK is some way off closing its educational attainment and health and survival gaps (ranking 32 and 94 respectively).
This is an alarming set of results and precisely why we need tough legislative action to close the gap, not just slowly allow it to narrow and more than likely peter off. Strong measures are needed because these statistics are unacceptable.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

It was reported this week that the number of women in work had hit record levels – but that the gender pay gap had somehow expanded in the process. The Office of National Statistics figures showed that 14 million women are now in employment – an all-time record high and a huge achievement. It shows a significant narrowing of employment rates or men and women over the course of the last 40 years. The workforce is now 46% female and two thirds of women have jobs; the old fashioned model, whereby the man went out to work and the woman stayed at home, seems to be disappearing.

However, as many pointed out, the increasing parity between men and women’s employment levels does not seem to have been matched in pay. The figures suggest that the gender pay gap has actually increased in the last year – from £89 to £97 a week – showing how much work is still to be done. Diane Elson of the UK Women’s Budget Group said that “While it’s good to see women’s employment rate increasing, we have to look at the quality of employment”. Others pointed at the high numbers of women registering themselves as self-employed or working less skilled, part-time jobs.

We need to strive much, much harder to tackle the myriad structural factors which mean women continue to be badly paid, underemployed, and penalised by the “biological factors” so insightfully identified by Nigel Farage last month. These are things we must address pro-actively – not just accept as a fact of life.

MEPs take action to end the gender pay gap

Labour Party

You may have already read this post on the British Influence website. However, I am posting it on this blog just in case you missed it.

Last week saw MEPs set the goal of removing the pay disparity between men and women by 2020. The Resolution on Equal Pay – which went through decisively at thr European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on Thursday – saw the 28 Member States make a collective promise to create a fairer pay deal. The resolution is particularly good news for women in the UK, which currently has the 6th worst gender pay gap of any EU economy.

The battle for gender equality has stalled in Britain since the recession hit in 2007, with many other European countries pulling ahead. British women are currently paid 20% less than men – a figure which rises to a terrifying 33% for jobs in The City of London. The problem is particularly bad for older women and those working in the private sector, where the pay gap is 24% (compared to 17% in the public sector).

Britain’s 1970 Equal Pay Act made it illegal for women to be paid less than men doing the same job, but it did not tackle the systemic reasons that mean women continue to earn less. Working women in the UK are twice as likely as men to be in low paid employment, and three times as liable to work part-time. They also continue to be penalised for motherhood.

The Resolution on Equal Pay urges the British Government – and others across Europe – to overcome these underlying issues. It puts an imperative on domestic politicians, asking that they reduce their countries’ respective gender pay gaps at a rate of 5% a year. For me the Resolution is a vindication of Britain’s involvement in Europe. It is a classic example of the EU leading from the front; collectively signing up to a positive goal, and working to help individual countries achieve it.

To be clear, this Resolution is only the first step in a long process towards gender equality. It symbolises a joint commitment by EU countries to eliminate the gap, but as yet it has not been enshrined in law. But I and others in the European Parliament are determined to making the 2020 vision for gender equality a reality, and will be pursuing the Resolution through to the next stage.

The most important thing in doing this is that we build a strong consensus on the subject. UKIP’s MEPs – all of whom are male – and other right-of-centre groups did their best to block the Resolution by abstaining or voting against last week. As the prospect of gender equality draws closer it is likely that they will step up their opposition – something which we must work together to contest.

The ideal set out in last week’s resolution – a 2020 Europe where women earn the same as men – may seem hard to imagine, but it is entirely achievable. All that is required is that progressive forces from across the political parties work together to make it happen.