Jun 11, 2018
In June 2018 it will be an incredible 50 years since the courageous women machinists at Dagenham’s Ford factory walked out and held a strike against the wage differences between men and women. Their work was unbelievably deemed unskilled in comparison to their male equivalents, and they received 15% less pay. The actions of the group of women in 1968 spurred the creation of the Equal Pay Act (1970), and while it was a landmark piece of legislation, the inequalities that it addressed then are still as alive in today’s modern world now.
More recently, the BBC, Next and Tesco have come under the spotlight for not paying women equal pay for equal work, and by the end of April, employers with over 250 employees are going to be required to publish their gender pay gap data. It will certainly make an interesting read!
Equal Pay v Gender Pay Gap
While equal pay and gender pay gap are intrinsically linked, they are two different issues.
Equal Pay: This means that when men and women complete the same roles, they should be paid equally, hence the Equal Pay Act (2010).
Gender Pay Gap: This is the percentage of the difference between men and women’s average wages within an organisation or industry. In the UK, the overall gender pay gap is 18.1%.
In 2017, the day when women’s wages stop being equal to men’s (Equal Pay Day), fell on 10th November which means that women work 51 days of the year for free which equates to 85.9 pence for every pound that a man works in the same role.
But how can you rebalance the wage inequalities in the workplace?
Own your work. Women have reported that male colleagues have hijacked the projects that they have been involved with. This hijacking can be as subtle as sending out documents from their e-mail address and getting positive feedback directed to them or as noticeable as being spoken over during presentations. Ensure that your involvement with projects is always recognised.
Demonstrate your value
While it should only be a matter of having your value recognised and rewarded accordingly within a workplace, you may need to quantify it when it’s come to your appraisal time. Make notes and document any areas that you have positively impacted on the business because facts always speak for themselves.
You may have introduced cost-saving measures, so record the money you have saved. You may have won clients, so demonstrate the increase in revenue. Women’s wages tend to be based upon past performance, in contrast to men’s on potential performance, and so arm yourself with historic facts and the future areas where you are going to excel, and certainly forecast the financial benefits to the company.
Transfer your skills
The argument for women being paid less is that they have often had gaps in employment and part-time hours due to bringing up children, meaning the deficit in wages is a stealth tax on families and a punishment for women who don’t have children.
Many women are responding to the inequalities by starting their own businesses that are flexible in terms of the hours worked and the profits that they receive. A coworking space is a viable alternative to working from home and offers a welcoming environment that gives the social aspect of working in an office but not to the detriment of your income. You also get the benefit of being able to network in a defined space with other like-minded individuals.
Wage equality is not solely a feminist issue. It is a social and economic issue too, and it is imperative that it is addressed holistically rather than exclusively as a female vs. male battle.