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Equal Pay Day: 60 more years to eradicate the gender pay gap!

Equal Pay Day: 60 more years to eradicate the gender pay gap!

 November 13, 2019

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Equal Pay Day is marked annually as the day when women effectively start to ‘work for free’ due to the gender pay gap.

The initiative helps raise awareness about the difference between the average pay of men and women. Paying women less than a male comparator for ‘equal work’ has been illegal since the 1970s under laws providing for ‘equal pay for equal work’ - but the practice still sadly prevails.

Recent statistics from the UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS) Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) reveal some good news - for age groups under 40, the full-time gender pay gap is now close to zero. However, by contrast, among the 50-59 age bracket and 60+ the gap is over 15 per cent.  

The gender pay gap has been declining slowly in recent years but it is still very much present - in 2019, for full-time employees, the gap was 8.9 per cent.

At Where Women Work, we are proud to partner with companies that continuously strive to ensure diverse leadership, close gender pay gaps, and do their utmost to help women progress their careers. 

The exciting work on offer, supportive teams and inclusive culture at these prime employers are also key reasons why women choose to work for them - and subsequently choose to remain with them for many years. 

Making progress - slowly 

Although companies are working hard to ensure they foster inclusive workplaces, the existence of Equal Pay Day proves there are still many gains needing to be made. 

The Fawcett Society (Fawcett) is a driving force behind Equal Pay Day and their Chief Executive Sam Smethers commented  "Progress to close the gender pay gap is dismally slow and at this rate it will take 60 years to eradicate it.  As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act women have waited long enough.”

"The pay gap represents a productivity gap and a waste of women's skills and potential. Too many women are trapped in low paid part-time work or locked out of non-traditional sectors while others experience pay or pregnancy discrimination,” Sam added. 

According to Fawcett, black and minority women experience bigger pay gaps than white women as they face multiple barriers and discrimination. “It's time to speed up the pace of change and shift the balance of power. We need gender pay gap reporting by ethnicity, medium-sized employers included in reporting requirements and a requirement to publish action plans. Employers have to be held to account,” Sam concludes.

The good news is that, as outlined above, change is starting to happen. All organisations employing over 250 people in England, Wales and Scotland are now being legally required to report their gender pay gap data annually and it is hoped that this will help progress the speed of change.

Support the #EqualPayDay campaign

Equal Pay Day is marked each year as the point in the year when, based on current data, women stop earning relative to men.

Here are some practical ideas around what you can do to make a change:

  • have a conversation at work about pay and find out what your colleagues earn
  • if your organisation employs over 250 people, ask your employer what they are doing to comply with the UK's gender pay gap reporting rules that require them to publish their gender pay gap 
  • write to your MP and ask them what they and their party are doing to close the gender pay gap

Research prime employers during this key time of year 

To mark Equal Pay Day, why not research the job opportunities on offer with prime employers for women and explore some new positions with supportive employers.


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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