This blog's owner

EqualPayPortalBlogSpot is run by equal pay expert Sheila Wild

26 January 2016

Gender pay gap for women in the senior civil service

While research published by Ernst and Young today on women in the senior civil service has resulted in lot of people patting themselves on the back for their progress in closing the gender pay gap – and the progress is indeed welcome –there appears to have been little coverage of the actual figures, and just as importantly, the recommendations made by Ernst and Young with a view to speeding up progress towards gender equality.  
Across the Civil Service, the average Senior Civil Service pay differential in core departments is 6.3 per cent. The smallest gaps are at DCLG (0.2 per cent), the Scottish Government (0.6 per cent) and HMRC (2.5 per cent). Defra is the only department whose Senior Civil Service pay differential favours women, who on average earn 1.5 per cent more than their male counterparts.

Percentage pay gap of women SCS compared to men – largest to smallest
2015 gap (%)
Energy & Climate Change
Cabinet Office
Ministry of Defence
HM Treasury
Work & Pensions
Foreign & Commonwealth office
International Development
Home Office
Ministry of Justice
Business, Innovation & Skills
Welsh Government
Culture, Media & Sports
Scottish Government
Communities & Local Government
Agriculture & Food
*Due to this department’s small size, pay comparison has been excluded.
 Ernst and Young’s recommendations to the UK Government are as follows:
  • Create greater accountability for delivering diversity plans (e.g. build in to performance measures for Permanent Secretaries)
  • Focus on changing the culture at the top, and current perceptions. Research shows current perceptions of some groups of staff in the civil service do not suggest an open and inclusive culture.
  • Tackle unconscious bias (e.g. by using data more effectively to explore the root causes of perceptions in the civil service)
  • Engage senior leaders in coaching and mentoring at senior levels and  reward role models
  • Create the business case for diversity, and focus on quantifying the benefits. This must be compelling in order to elevate it to an organisational priority. Integrate diversity and inclusion into wider workforce planning to identify and develop the diverse skills, knowledge, experience and different ways of thinking needed to deliver government strategies.
  • Continue to develop practical policies that support inclusiveness and gender parity working (e.g. flexible working, job sharing, structured support networks
  • Develop platforms to showcase and share best practice across departments.

You can read the full report here.

External recruiting widens the gender pay gap in the senior civil service

In its evidence to the Senior Salaries Review Board – the independent pay review body responsible for making recommendations for the UK's senior civil service - the FDA, the union that represents senior civil servants, has said that rising inequality between pay levels for external recruits against existing staff is resulting in an entrenched gender pay gap and up to a third of senior civil servants saying they want to leave.

New starters from outside of the civil service can expect to be paid on average around £25,000 more than a civil servant promoted from within the service, and at some grades this rises to nearly £40,000 more on recruitment.Even when internal candidates apply for externally advertised jobs, rarely are they given the starting salary an external recruit would have received.

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman
In publishing the union's written evidence to the SSRB, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said:

"SCS salaries are around 25% lower than they were six years ago and more than a quarter of top performers want to leave the service as soon as possible. . . . The Government's approach of throwing money at new recruits from the private sector, while holding experienced civil servants down at the bottom of their pay scale, isn't working and is blocking efforts to resolve the ever present gender pay gap.

Women constitute nearly 40% of the SCS workforce and are more likely to be assessed as 'top' performers, yet still, on average, earn more than £4,000 a year less than their male colleagues.”

While the FDA’s submission shows that 38 percent of all respondents to a survey of FDA members, 47 per cent of top performers and 29 per cent of external hires are aware of equal pay issues, the FDA does not provide figures on the gender pay gap. This is a pity – the FDA would have helped their own case if they could have shown a widening of the gender pay gap in senior posts over the seven years of pay restraint.

The FDA's evidence to the SSRB can be read here.

24 January 2016

Dairymaids on the cheap

I’m reading The Edge of the World, how the North Sea made us who we are, by Michael Pye. It’s a book I want to read slowly, to savour every sentence, to take in every beautifully expressed piece of information.  

Adam Nicolson doesn’t like The Edge of the World. Writing in The Spectator he describes it as ‘a mass of storytelling allied to a rather cute way with a moral (‘The personal isn’t just political; it is economic’ )  . . . leaves you hungry for system, rigour, the search for pattern and consistency, any form of understanding which goes beyond the charming anecdote.

Tom Holland, for The Guardian, is a little kinder. The focus on the North Sea  . . . becomes increasingly blurred. . . The problem he faces is as simple as it is unacknowledged: so successful was the process of conquest and evangelisation by which Latin Christendom expanded into its northern periphery that what had been distinctive about the North Sea in the early medieval period was increasingly lost. . . . None of which prevents Pye’s book from being hugely enjoyable . . . Grey the waters of the North Sea may be; but Pye has successfully dyed them with a multitude of rich colours.”

And what has all this got to do with equal pay? Quite a lot, for in Pye’s book, women are neither an afterthought nor a side issue. What women do while the men are out farming, fishing, fighting, and trading, is given its due. 

Pye’s chapter Love and Capital describes how women were able to make to make choices in the north-west of Europe available to women nowhere else. He argues that the merchant business made families and marriages more flexible, while marriage itself became more equal. 

Crafts and professions included both men and women. In Bruges the bosses of the town were addressed as ‘mester’ and ‘mestrigge’.The growth of towns, coupled with provision for women to inherit property enabled women to flourish as clothiers, bakers, tanners, and money changers in their own right, but they also ran the shop or the warehouse when their menfolk were absent. Pye describes women as ‘the constant, stable heart of business’.  

Country women had a harder time of it, for making a living had everything to do with having the use of a property. And whereas a townswoman could charge what the market would bear on her products and services, countrywomen’s wages were less than those of a man. 

Pye writes: “A thirteenth century bailiff in England, in a book that was copied again and again, says it is worth having a dairy maid to look after the small animals even if you don’t have dairy: ‘it is always good to have a woman there, at much less cost than a man.’”

22 January 2016

Age Action Alliance Employer Toolkit

The Employer Toolkit, published by the Age Action Alliance, is a new interactive resource, offering guidance for managers of older workers.  The information available details how employers can better manage their workforce, and by doing so, how they can capitalise on the UK’s changing demographics.
The Toolkit includes information relating to the 3 ‘R’s highlighted by the Government’s former Business Champion for Older Workers, Dr Ros Altmann CBE. These are retaining, retraining and recruiting older workers. Information is also included on a range of other topics including legal requirements, knowledge management and flexible working arrangements. Unfortunately the guidance makes no mention of pay – and yet the gender pay gap is at its widest for older women.
As EqualPayPortal’s submission to the Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry in to the Gender Pay Gap shows, legislative moves to equalise opportunities for women were late in arriving, and slow to mature. Moreover, rather than seeking from the outset to rebalance opportunities between men and women, Britain has tended to rely upon an expansion of the part-time labour market, an expansion which has had the effect of restricting the choices available to working women, thereby reinforcing gender inequality. This means that throughout most of the past fifty years, women and men have entered the labour market on different terms. This has not been a free choice (for either women or men), but a response to how the labour market has been structured.  
You can read the full submission here.
A woman has to be over 40 to have benefitted from even the most basic advances towards equality, and only women in their 20s will have benefitted from all the advances in equalities legislation and employment protection. It’s not too late to redress the inequalities experienced by older women, but they do need to be brought into the conversation. The guidance in the Employer Toolkit is currently available on a general level, and further information will be released to reflect the realities of working within different sectors – let’s hope the Alliance takes to heart the need to improve support for older women, not just as carers, but also as people with ambition, and to pay them accordingly.  

20 January 2016

More women are earning more money and paying more tax

A record 50,000 women in the UK are now in the highest tax bracket in 2014/15, a rise of 48 per cent since the additional rate was introduced in 2010, says Radius Equity, the specialist investment provider. The data, provided to Radius Equity under the Freedom of Information Act, shows the proportion of women in the highest tax bracket (earning over £150,000) is also rising and now stands at 15.3 per cent of all the highest rate taxpayers, compared to 13.8 per cent five years ago.
However, growth in the number of high earning women has slowed to its lowest level since the recession and women are also lagging behind men in building wealth through investments. The increase in the number of women in the highest tax bracket was just 2 per cent in the last year – far lower than the average of 15 per cent per annum growth over the previous three years.

19 January 2016

What will the WEF say about the gender pay gap?

Davos 2016
With the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos later this week for the 46th Annual Meeting, the WEF agenda features a number of reports and sessions on women’s contribution to the world economy. Central to this part of the agenda is the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Index 2015, which ranks 145 economies according to how well they are leveraging their female talent pool, based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators. With a decade of data now available, this edition of the Global Gender Gap Report – first published in 2006 – shows that while the world has made progress overall, stubborn inequalities remain.

The UK
The rankings are designed to create greater awareness among a global audience of the challenges posed by gender gaps and the opportunities created by reducing them. The methodology and quantitative analysis behind the rankings are intended to serve as a basis for designing effective measures for reducing gender gaps. The UK ranks 18th, but only 62nd on wage equality for similar work.

The economic case for gender parity
The Report argues that a nation’s competitiveness depends, among other things, on whether and how it educates and utilizes its female talent and points to ample evidence from the last decade of policy levers and business practices that have been effective in closing economic gender gaps. The Report says that, given the widespread benefits of increased gender parity, the short term costs and trade-offs associated with such practices should be viewed as a long-term investment.

Good equal pay practice
In terms of best business practice, the report suggests six dimensions around which to focus an organization’s gender parity efforts. These could equally well be applied to the gender pay gap:
  • Leadership and company commitment
  • Measurement and target setting. Here the Report says “Developing a disaggregated database can help to evaluate the causes of gender imbalances and track progress. Transparent salary bands to track and address male and female salary gaps are additional useful tools to understand the status quo in organizations.”
  • Awareness and accountability
  • Work environment and work- life balance
  • Responsibility beyond the office, which the Report defines as exercising external influence along the value chain.

18 per cent of Davos participants this year are women, up from 17 per cent last year, but still nowhere near enough.

The theme of this year’s meeting, Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, reflects the way digitisation is upending the way we live and work. 

The WEF website suggests that if you’re interested in gender issues, you can follow the livestream of Davos sessions including a briefing, “The Gender Impactof the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, on Thursday January 21 at 10.00am CET, and a debate on "Progress towards Parity" on Friday 22 at 4pm CET.

18 January 2016

Regulations laid for more public authorities in Scotland to publish equal pay information

Nicola Sturgeon, MSP
The Scottish Government has laid regulations to extend the requirement on public authorities to publish information on their gender pay gap and equal pay statements.
Whereas the UK wide regulations proposed by Westminster will only apply to public and private sector authorities with more than 250 employees, it is already the case that, under the Public Sector Equality Duty’s Scotland Specific Duties, the Scottish Government requires public authorities with more than 150 employees to publish this information. Scotland will now require public authorities with more than 20 employees to disclose gender pay gap information and statements on equal pay.

Speaking at Unite Scotland’s first ever policy conference, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that the regulations have been laid before Parliament, with the aim that they are approved before the end of session in March, as part of the First Minister’s commitment to support equal pay and to challenge the gender pay gap.

14 January 2016

Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry into the Gender Pay Gap for Women over 40

Maria Miller MP,
Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee
Back in December, having previously submitted written evidence, and briefed the Committee at a private session, I gave oral evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry into the Gender Pay Gap for Women over 40. 

The gist of my evidence has been that it’s taken the UK so long to get gender equality embedded into the labour market, women in the 55+ age groups have missed out. Saying that the gender pay gap experienced by these women is down to their having taken time out to have children is overly simplistic, and does nothing to help resolve the disadvantage women in these age cohorts have carried with them throughout their working lives. 

All of the written submissions to this inquiry are now up on the parliamentary website.

You can find the written submissions here and EqualPayPortal’s submission here.

The video of the evidence session on held on the 15th December 2016 appears here.

EqualPayPortal has a page on the Inquiry.

12 January 2016

Seminar on the Gender Pay Gap – 20th January 2016

The University of Greenwich’s Work and Employment Research Unit is running a seminar which will consider the gender pay gap and the impact of the changing labour market for women. The three speakers are from the David Freeman from the Office for National Statistics, Sally Brett from the TUC and Dr Monica Costa Dias from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The seminar will be held on the 20th January 2016.

To find out more or to register, click here

5 January 2016

Women’s Equality Party on equal pay

Having recently been misquoted in The Guardian online, I’m giving Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, the benefit of the doubt.

Did she really say that ‘many employers reclassify jobs so as to pay women less?’ If so, where’s the evidence to back this up?

But perhaps she didn’t say it – I didn’t say that men routinely ask for bonuses: what I did say was that men tend to get paid more, because both they and the people who employ them, expect them to get paid more.  I couldn’t challenge the Guardian because until the transcript of the proceedings is available, I can’t prove what I said, but I do find mis-reporting on equal pay issues very frustrating. It doesn’t help anyone to be reported as misrepresenting the evidence.

I dug a bit deeper into what Walker might have said. Here’s WE’s inaugural policy paper on equal pay:

WE expect equal pay for equal work and will look for ways to tackle the existing       imbalances that leave many women, such as those who are unpaid caregivers or in low paid jobs,especially vulnerable.

Forty-five years after the Equal Pay Act, for every hour they work, women still earn just 81p of every pound earned by men. There are many ways of measuring the pay gap – pay for each hour worked, pay for each worker, total pay for all women, and for all men – but           however you measure it, the story is the same: women earn less per hour, less per job and less overall. In total, women earn just 52% of what men do every year because not only do they earn less, they are more likely to sacrifice the opportunity to earn a wage for the sake of their family. The contribution of women to our economy and our society is undervalued, both in paid work and at home.

The OECD has shown that if we unleashed the true potential of women the economy could grow by an extra 10% by 2030 – adding an extra £180 billion to growth. WE will ensure all women who want to work can do so and are paid fairly for it. WE will work to end the bias in pay for occupations perceived as ‘male’ or ‘female’ that means caring work is paid less than manual labour. WE will be ruthless in the fight against direct discrimination that sees women pushed out of work or held back because of their gender. Transparency on gender pay regulations first proposed by Labour and enacted by the Conservatives are soon to come in force, requiring larger companies to publish data on their male and female employees’ pay. The details are yet to be finalised but WE believe a comprehensive approach is necessary.

o  WE will require companies with more than 250 employees to publish a comprehensive annual report covering the numbers of women and men – broken down by ethnicity and disability – at different levels in the company, their pay, their employment status and their working hours. Data on retention during and after parental leave should also be published.
o   Within three years WE will extend this requirement to businesses with more than 50 employees and all those securing government contracts at any level. 
o   HM Revenue and Customs should gather data through PAYE and Self-Assessment forms on gender, age, ethnicity, disability status, industry and working hours. This should be anonymised and published to allow researchers to develop a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between gender, race, age, disability status and pay.

Sensible stuff! I could support that.