At the moment it’s virtually impossible to read or watch the news without stumbling across an article or opinion piece concerning the issues of workplace equality and the gender pay gap. While the limelight has recently fallen on Hollywood as it grapples with these concerns, closer to home the BBC has come under fire by both media outlets and some of its employees for the disparity in the amount the organisation is paying its male and female staff.
From lower pay to prejudice against women who either have children, or who return to the workplace after giving birth and are then passed over for promotion, whether it’s a large corporation or a small start-up these issues are found across the board.
One of the problems is that jobs traditionally held by women – for example catering and cleaning – are regarded as undervalued and are therefore subjected to lower rates of pay than jobs traditionally done by men – such as those in construction and transport. This is problematic as it subconsciously places more value on “male” jobs both in terms of pay and the way society perceives them.
How can employers and HR teams address the gender pay gap?
To combat the challenges faced by women who typically earn less after having children due to a decrease in the hours they are able to work, some companies are trialing workplace creches. However the costs involved in ‘bring your baby to work’ schemes are prohibitive for most organisations – leading to some firms offering subsidised childcare. But if budget constraints in your business won’t allow for either of these options, why not look into the possibility of staff working remotely while caring for their children?
Finally, and it may seem like a no-brainer (although clearly many employers are choosing otherwise given the extent to which the gender pay gap has been uncovered) why not simply pay your female employees the same salary as men in the same positions?
Take a leaf out of the University of Essex’s book who announced last June that they were increasing salaries of their female professors by giving them a one-off payment in order to bring their average pay scale inline with their male colleagues. Creating a salary structure that is not gender-centric but is based purely on the position – no matter whether what the sex of the employee – is also a big positive step in the direction of workplace equality.