“Today’s announcement that the government is planning a league table to rank large firms according to their gender pay gaps has been welcomed by many as a step towards parity. But we will have to wait until 2018 to see this take shape and it comes without any sanctions or consequences, forcing the question of whether this is all too little too late.
According to the general secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, if the current rate of progress towards salary equality among men and women continues, it will be 47 years before the gap evens out. Clearly, action needs to be taken and quickly if we are serious about solving this shameful situation. Even if the government brought forward its league table to 2016, is this really the solution? The league table is just that; a simple chart that says nothing about the reality behind the statistics and what will be done to level the playing field. It needs to be accompanied by consequences, otherwise this is simply a gimmick played out by the government to buy time and give the impression of activity.
Instead, I’d like to see a true action plan that is quickly implemented by the government in the form of legislative changes, forcing employers to act and outlining clear repercussions for those who fail to do so. This should apply to businesses of all sizes without any loopholes, ruling out the common practice of using bonuses to broaden the gender pay gap in a less obvious but equally disturbing manner.
As strength returns to the economy, I am comforted to see the number of start-ups that are flourishing here in the North West and throughout the UK, many of which are run in a thoroughly modern manner. Equal pay for men and women seems so obvious to these new entrepreneurs, along with flexible working and attractive packages. Larger, traditional companies are typically the worse offenders for unequal pay and they could certainly learn a thing or two from their smaller counterparts. In the meantime, I’d urge the government to start taking the issue seriously and rethink its current solution if Britain is to end this embarrassing problem once and for all.”