I don’t care about the business case for equal pay
If you’re a woman, you will earn less than a man. — Theresa May, July, 2016
There has been increasing attention on the subject of equal pay in the workplace over the past number of years. Rightly so. Many of these debates seek to promote views such as:
- Equal pay for equal work — the idea that a man and a woman who are performing similar tasks should be paid a similar amount
- Special consideration for unequal pay— a few articles I’ve read talked about the fact that equal pay might be less of an issue because women typically take time off for life-events such as child-birth and parenting with greater frequency than men. In this instance unequal pay develops as a result of things like reduced time working
- Benefits of equal pay — such as increased morale, reputation protection, easier talent attraction, etc
- Realism of equal pay — there have been many arguments about how businesses can’t simply adopt equal pay overnight because of the cost associated with it and it’s an issue that needs corrected over time
However, here’s where I stand on this issue. I don’t actually care about the pro-business case arguments for equal pay. Companies shouldn’t need a business case to do the right thing. Companies shouldn’t require a business benefit for equality. It’s a nice by-product, but it shouldn’t be primary motivating factor. Dancing around the issue, publishing figures each year on the gender pay gap, and making progress over time isn’t good enough.
I completely accept that there are legitimate reasons owing to differences in pay such as time in role, experience, specialised skills — but these should not be exacerbated by gender. The reality remains that on the whole we must get better at equalising pay. It has far reaching implications outside of a simple pay packet — for example women are unrepresented in many companies top-management structures…which starts an debate about the business case for diversity in the work place.
The truth of the matter in the UK is that women work approximately one month of year for free compared to men. That’s not good enough. Women deserve better. What’s your company doing to reduce the gender pay gap?