Despite decades of progress towards workplace equality, the gender pay gap remains an ongoing issue.
We all know by now that there are numerous benefits to having a diverse workforce and promoting women in leadership. The main issue is no longer explaining why the pay gap needs to be closed, but how quickly it needs to be closed.
Equal Pay Day is a national campaign led by the Fawcett Society which marks the day in the year where women effectively, on average, stop earning relative to men because of the gender pay gap. Fawcett uses the mean, full-time, hourly gender pay gap for the UK to calculate the gender pay gap for Equal Pay Day which this year is 11.3%, a tiny decrease from 11.9% last year.
This year, Equal Pay Day falls on 20th November, just two days later than in 2021, and still 41 days before the end of the year. While it’s no revelation that the gender pay gap is closing too slowly, the day puts this disparity into stark focus.
Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA at Skillsoft, explains: “The economic crisis has weighed heavily on working women, with research showing the disproportionate impact of job losses and financial strain. It’s disappointing to see this reflected in this year’s gender pay gap figures – decreasing a minimal 0.6% from 2021.”
This week, the Autumn Budget has confirmed that the UK has moved into recession, with the Women’s Budget Group warning that the gender pay gap will rise if the Tory government “pursue austerity 2.0”.
With this in mind, Nowakowska urges that “now is the time for action” when it comes to propelling gender equality initiatives. “However, talks of the government’s move to “cut the red tape”, scrapping gender pay gap reporting for businesses with under 500 employees, risks further turning back the clock for women at work,” she warns.
In addition, there’s been a significant fall in employers providing gender pay data in the last few years. Across the board, DEI initiatives seem to have taken a back seat, jeopardising the employment gains of the previous decades.
“Now more than ever, organisations need to ensure equal pay initiatives are firmly on the boardroom agenda, giving female employees opportunities to advance to higher-paying positions,” Nowakowska adds.
“To help close the gender pay gap within their organisation, employers should address and review flexible work policies, evaluate unconscious bias and facilitate professional development. Considering what women want and need from the workplace is also key to retention. Above all, eliminating inequality in the workplace hinges on accountability and concerted effort – now is not the time to sit idle on equality goals.”
Agata Nowakowska is Area Vice President EMEA at Skillsoft, where she leads the field operations, to include enterprise and small & mid-market, as well as channel sales/strategic alliances across Europe, Middle East and Africa.