The latest data by the Office for National Statistics has found that, while the gender gap in the UK has fallen to its lowest ever level at 8.6%, the average woman in the workplace still earns 8.6% less than the average man with the gap even wider for women aged over 40 with 12.8%. With this in mind, Instant Offices have investigated what forward-thinking steps can be taken to help bridge the gap.
According to the World Economic Forum, it could take 170 years to close the gender pay gap on a global level completely. The ONS states that in the UK, some of the reasons for the wage disparity include women working in lower-paid jobs as well as being underrepresented in senior roles. Additionally, 41% of women work part-time compared to the 12% of men, which could mean a lower rate of pay.
John Williams, Head of Marketing at The Instant Group, says:
Due to the gap in male and female salaries, in theory, women start working for free in the UK from 10 November – a date that has remained the same since 2015.
The good news, however, is that the gender pay gap among full-time workers in the UK has fallen to its lowest level in 20 years, but, according to the Trades Union Congress, the country still has a long way to go in terms of equal pay across the board.
1. Incentivize paternity leave
Businesses can be made more female-friendly by incentivizing paternity leave for dads. If fathers have additional paternity leave, mothers can return to work sooner, work more hours and earn more money, while allowing fathers more bonding time with their newborns. Shared parental leave was introduced in the UK in 2015, although not all parents qualify.
2. Subsidize childcare
The cost of childcare can be stressful for many families, with an average cost of part-time childcare being up to £6,000 a year. The UK government covers some of the costs of childcare once the child turns three, but with the nursery fees and travel costs, women on low wages often find going back to work to be a difficult and financially draining decision. That said, some businesses have been stepping in to provide female staff with childcare services. According to research, companies providing childcare services saw reductions in employee turnover, increased productivity, and improved quality in job applicants.
3. Introduce remote working
In today’s digital world, remote working is becoming more acceptable and accessible to millennial workers, although parents can also enjoy the benefits of working from home. The Fawcett Society, an organization dedicated to gender equality, has called on employers to provide roles that are flexible, part-time or a job share. According to the TUC, flexible working has real benefits for businesses, with employees proving to be more dedicated and productive.
There is a common misconception that mothers working from home are less ambitious than their colleagues are. On the contrary, according to a survey by Ernst and Young, 64% of working women who enjoyed flexible working hours claimed to have a clear career path compared to 10% of women who worked fixed hours. While flexible working conditions enable mothers to juggle work, childcare, and family commitments, it also allows more time for essential tasks.
4. Be transparent about pay
Being open and transparent about how much you pay your staff, whether listed in the initial job description or the interview, is a good starting point. Businesses should research market rates for a role and offer a fair salary for the job they are hiring for. It is also a good idea to explain how your business determines salaries and pay increases up front so that the candidate can make an informed decision about joining your company or not.
5. Ensure that promotions and rewards are fair
A disparity in pay can easily occur when employees are offered promotions, pay raises or bonuses. As a business owner, you must ensure that these are not in favor of male employees and that everyone has a fair chance of receiving a promotion, reward, or salary increase. Whether it is an outright or subconscious bias towards male employees, this can easily get out of hand, therefore putting in place clear and concise criteria for promotions, pay raises and bonuses will help keep things fair.
6. Give female employees a raise
Giving female employees an increase can eliminate the gender pay gap in the most pain-free way. Not only are employees enjoying equal pay, but, as more companies are being scrutinized and being forced to publish their gender pay gap reports, it provides the best strategy for businesses to continue operations with minimal disruptions and additional pressure.
You can find out more about bridging the gender gap in this infographic.
About the author: Established in 1999, The Instant Group is a global flexible workspace specialist. Underpinned by unrivaled expertise, Instant tailors unique solutions to help businesses of all sizes to grow, drive savings or gain invaluable insight. With offices in London, Berlin, Dallas, New York, Hong Kong, and Sydney, The Instant Group employs more than 100 experts and has clients in 113 countries.