Is the UK gender pay gap actually widening?
Cue fanfare of sadness: the gender pay gap is alive and well. Thriving in fact. Women are still earning less than their male counterparts and our pay packets are not growing at the same rate as those of our male colleagues.
Robert Half UK, a recruitment consultancy, has analysed figures released by the Office for National Statistics ahead of International Women’s Day and the findings make for depressing reading.
On average, the gender pay gap for 2015 was £5,732. The total earnings of all women are, on average significantly less than the total earnings of all men.
It’s awful whatever way you frame it: the median gross pay for full-time male employees in the UK last year was £29,934, but for women it was £24,202 – women earned 24 per cent less than men.
This figure projected over a 52-year career suggests that over a lifetime of work women will earn a staggering £298,064 less than men.
But frankly we knew this pay gap existed already and that it made for infuriating reading. What hasn’t been crystal clear before is how stubborn this gap remains.
You might have thought, quite reasonably, that because the gender pay gap has been headline making of late, because Hollywood heavyweights have been providing soundbites on the issue and because last July the Prime Minister pledged to ‘end the pay gap in a generation’ that new stats should hold promise. Not so much.
Robert Half’s findings also highlight a growth issue: men’s full-time salaries are growing at a faster rate. Between 2014 and 2015 gross annual women’s earnings increased by 1.4%, men’s by 1.6%, on average. This is no way to close the gap: it actually magnifies the already existing disparity.
Previously, the World Economic Forum suggested that full gender pay equality would not be achieved until 2133. It now seems like even this more-than-a-century-away estimate could be too generous…
What needs to be done to help tackle the problem? It’s certainly not a case of women lacking skills or being under qualified for jobs. Quality part-time roles need to be rolled out, more flexible working schemes introduced for women with childcare responsibilities, and affordable childcare needs to available to support working parents.
Plus, despite the existence of the UK’s new rules on sharing parental leave a working culture remains that assumes fathers won’t split this paid leave equally with their child’s mother.
Katy Tanner, a director at Robert Half UK, said:
“International Women’s Day provides a platform to highlight the importance for rewarding all employees fairly on the basis of their contribution to the organisation, rather than their gender or indeed any other point of difference.”