Equal Pay Day? It should be every day

Equal Pay Day marks the point at which women working full-time effectively stop earning, as they are paid ?5,200 (15.7 per cent) less per year on average than men working full-time. 

Analysis by the TUC of the official figures published to mark Equal Pay Day shows that men working full-time are twice as likely to earn more than ?50,000 a year as full-time women, research shows. Just one in 15 women working full-time earns more than ?50,000 a year, compared to one in seven women.

Ingrid Waterfield, director in KPMG’s People Powered Performance practice, says that while raising awareness of the pay gap between men and women is important, it is the underlying reason behind the gap which needs to be addressed. 

This is a much wider issue than the size of a monthly pay cheque, she says: ?In the forty years since the first Equality Act was passed, not enough attention has been given to pay and the wider context within which pay decisions are made. While the glass ceiling may be showing the first signs of cracking, equal earnings remain the elephant in the room ? whether this is an office or on a factory floor.”

Water field suggests that equal pay audits are another step on the path to transparency in business, but that the threat of forced publication of pay structures would not solve the problem overnight.

?The fact is that numbers, alone, mean nothing and cannot be compared. They might show who earns what, but this knowledge will do nothing to address the fundamental cultural issues that still need to be tackled,” Waterfield explains. 

“Instead, it is managers who make decisions about pay and promotions who need to be educated to ensure their assessments are free from bias. Better communication on how decisions are made is vital to help employees understand why they are paid what they are.”

Unfortunately, this is often down to inconsistencies on the part of managers, which leads to discrepancies in pay. So she says it is important to ensure decisions are based on pre-agreed criteria, rather than on personal relationships, particularly where performance-related pay is concerned.

?There is no excuse for not being able to control these decisions in today’s technological world. The power of data analytics means these decisions can be monitored, evaluated and brought into line, prior to any final sign off. The end result will be a greater chance that equal pay for an equal day will become the norm,” she concludes.

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