Equal pay still a distant target

Ahead of the UK’s Equal Pay Day, which this year falls on November 10, the online recruitment marketplace Hired.com has conducted a survey of the gender pay gap in both the UK and other countries.

Hired notes that the Equal Pay Act was introduced back in 1970 and six years have passed since it was mostly superseded by the Equality Act 2010. Despite this legislation, which made it illegal for men and women to be paid differently for doing the same work, a significant wage gap persists between genders in the UK and around the world. The issue extends beyond pay as British women are still less likely than their male counterparts to make it into the boardroom or achieve promotion.

Equal Pay Day, an event that’s become widely recognised across the globe, marks the day that women stop earning relative to men based on the national gender wage gap.

On Hired’s online platform, candidates set a preferred salary and interview requests made by companies include compensation details. This enabled a report to be compiled from analysis of more than 10,000 offers made to some 3,000 candidates and 750 companies on the UK platform.

The data suggests that across the UK, women are paid an average of 13.9% less than their male counterparts, with the gap less wide in the technology sector at 9%. The latter is still more than other tech hubs around the world, with the UK’s 9% comparing with 8% in the US, 7% for Canada and Australia the lowest with a 5% gap.

The analysis suggests that the wage gap is particularly high among mid-sized companies. Those with up to 200 employees or more than 1,000 employees tend to have a wage gap near or less than the industry average of 9%, but for companies with between 201-1000 employees the figure nearly doubles to 17%.

Hired suggests that one reason for this could be that mid-sized these companies aren’t big enough to be subject to regulation like larger companies, but also lack the same level of transparency across all hiring managers and divisions that a smaller company has. Another finding is that in addition to greater wage equality, women in the UK are likely to make more money at larger organisations.

Not so great expectations

The data also provides insights in the so-called ‘expectation gap’, or how much women ask for relative to their male colleagues. For software engineering salaries, entry-level (under two years) men outearn their female counterparts by 7%, increasing to 10% for men and women with between two and six years of experience, and the widening more sharply to 31% for individuals with more than six years’ experience.

This, in turn, has an impact on the salaries that women request. Women with less than six years of experience ask for roughly the same salary as their male counterparts; however, as they reach six or more years of experience, they ask for 18% less, suggesting that women adjust their expectations downwards over the course of their careers after receiving lower salaries than the men they work alongside.

When UK male and female candidates request the same salary, the wage gap almost disappears; which is similar to the findings of Hired’s US report. This suggests that women who know their worth in the interview and job searching process can command a salary on par with men.

That said, companies play an equally important role in this process, and should consider employing a data-based approach to compensation that determines salary based on an individual’s market worth and not their previous – and possibly biased – salary. Company-wide salary audits and regular training to ensure that there is no unconscious bias in the pay and promotion process are also good ways to close the wage gap.

Commenting on the findings, Marta Krupinska, co-founder and general manager of international money transfer service Azimo, said: “The fact that a £5,000 pay gap exists in the tech sector is unacceptable. We’re far behind the US, Australia and Canada in terms of equal pay and that shows that there’s a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed.

“Our tech sector is a world-leader because of its creativity and innovation – and women are a vital part of this. Research has proven that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to perform above the industry average, so it’s crucial that UK tech companies take responsibility and eliminate any pay gaps, otherwise the future of our sector is at risk.”

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Dominic Mac

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