12 APR 2018

Gender pay gap

Kent Messenger Column - 12-04-18 

Last week saw the legal deadline for businesses with over 250 employees to publish their gender pay-gap data for the first time. Why is this important?

It is a fact that organisations with gender balanced workforces, at all levels of their structures, do better. They are more sustainable, more innovative, less risky, make better decisions and are more profitable.

Equal opportunity for both genders is therefore not only a moral imperative, it is an economic no-brainer. This legislation is now motivating individual businesses to inwardly assess the underlying reasons for their own pay gaps, and they are multiple.

Some are societal and stereotypical; where (for no good reason) women and girls have not traditionally been guided toward certain career choices particularly STEM pathways (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Genuine choice is also a factor, for example where women actively choose to work part time (which is often lower paid) especially relating to children or elderly care responsibilities.

However, one of the biggest reasons for the gap is that there are simply not enough women in the top jobs, earning the top salaries. To close the gap we must remove the causal barriers and hurdles and suggested measures include; having more female role models, giving more ambitious and creative career advice at schools, mentoring and sponsorship schemes (to help develop female pipelines), and the introduction of more flexible working schemes to try and keep more women climbing the ladders of opportunity for longer.

These initiatives are as relevant to businesses across Maidstone & The Weald as they are to our whole nation. It is estimated that if women and men enjoyed parity in their hours, pay and seniority at work then we could see up to £150 billion added to our GDP by 2025. If ever there was a time for enterprise to embrace this, it is right now, as we move toward the challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit.

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