Discrimination plays a key role in the gender pay gap within the workplace. According to an article in the Independent, ‘a total of 80 percent of UK women think that gender discrimination occurs in the workplace and almost a third consider it to be inherent’. This figure is worrying as many businesses may well be oblivious to what their female workers are experiencing. Bringing these topics to light, such as the gender pay gap, is critical in creating an environment that is inclusive for everyone. It is clear that there are more men in senior positions than there are women, therefore amplifying the divide in pay between sexes. For example, looking at the NHS, ‘the figures show that, despite women making up over three quarters of NHS staff, they are still in the minority in senior roles’. This imbalance underlines the way in which women are still underrepresented in higher positions in the working world. In addition, ’37 percent of all senior roles are now held by women compared with 31 percent in 2009’. Although this evidence shows a move in the right direction, it continues to further highlight that men are more likely to obtain jobs that receive larger salaries. Why is this pay gap so wrong? A lower rate of pay for women, especially single women, makes it increasingly harder to better their financial positions, for example saving for retirement or crisis situations. According to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), ‘in 2019 the gender pay gap was 17.3% in the UK, which means that on average, women were paid approximately 83p for every £1 men were paid’. It is frequently believed that in modern day society we are reaching a solid level of equality, although this statistic suggests otherwise. The UK is generally thought as a place that is advanced and is evolving to eliminate any conflicts arising from individuals’ differences, however we still have a long way to go regarding equal pay in the workplace. One of the ways in which the gender pay gap is overtly wrong is the consequences of having children for women. Overall, women are made to feel much less employable with children, whilst men with growing families are often perceived as hard-working breadwinners. According to Michelle J. Budwig a sociology professor from the University of Massachusetts, ‘for each child a woman has, her wage will decrease by about 4 percent, even when a variety of factors are taken into account’. Following this, she continues to say, ‘when a man has a child, however, his earnings increase by 6 percent with the same factors taken into account’. After absorbing this information, it can easily be understood that parenthood only augments the wage inequality between sexes, continuing to favour men. What can be done to reduce it? Both the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the updated Equality Act 2010 were implemented to prevent any financial imbalances between men and women. Although these laws have worked hard to stabilise rates of pay over time, it is evident that in 2021 the gender pay gap still remains a problem in contemporary society. One of the ways in which businesses can minimise this disparity in salary is by carrying out pay equity audits. If done so correctly, these reviews can offer insight into inconsistent wages for men and women, which can then be acted upon in effort to restore equality between sexes. Therefore, transparency is crucial within businesses as it will in turn spark conversations, whilst also beginning to uproot the deeply embedded gender pay gap that exists in countless companies still to this day. Another way the gender pay gap can be combatted is unpicking the prejudice against men taking paternity leave, over the mother of their child. A survey carried out by Investors in People, concluded that ‘at 60 percent, the majority of workers said they would find it unusual for a man to take more than two weeks paternity leave’. This proves that gender expectations in society are still prominent, even in a world in which is now felt to be much more forward-thinking. By deconstructing these outdated traditions and beliefs, women will then have room to progress professionally, without the judgements that have forever restrained them. It is natural to reflect positively on how far we have come in the UK, regarding the tremendous progress of gender equality in many businesses, however the fight is still not over. By openly discussing any differences in the rates of pay between men and women, we can continue to strive for equal salaries for both sexes in the workplace.
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