Author Gina Clarke
High-profile women have been offering their resignations in protest, as ongoing evidence of a dividing gender pay gap continues to emerge. New regulations in the UK have made pay differences between men and women in larger companies such as the BBC more transparent in recent months, leading to a revolt by females in top jobs both here and overseas in the US. Currently, the pay difference in the UK stands at 18.1% for all workers or 9.4% for full-time staff.
A rumbling first came about last summer when the BBC published a list of its high earning stars, with only a third of women making the cut. Now the row has resurfaced after the resignation of Carrie Gracie, China editor at the BBC, who has accused the corporation of leading a “secretive and illegal” pay culture.
The journalist had worked for the corporation for over 30 years and her resignation has prompted more female stars to use the #IStandWithCarrie hashtag on social media.
Gender pay becomes a top talking point in around the world
Across the pond, similar movements are afoot. E!News was shamed live on TV at the Golden Globes on Sunday night by Will & Grace actress Debra Messing who used her airtime to berate the TV channel over long-standing anchor Catt Sadler’s resignation. She said, “I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn’t believe in paying their female co-hosts the same as their male co-hosts. I miss Catt Sadler.” Sadler had previously resigned in December after it was revealed her co-host made almost double her salary.
In this country, the Government is moving towards transparency over gender pay gap information. By April, companies with over 250 employees will have to publish any differences in gender pay (men and women who do the same job but are paid differently) or face an interview with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
Around half of the UK workforce will be affected by the new reporting rules, which encompass 9,000 employers and more than 15 million employees.
These results will be made public on a new government database that aims to work towards fighting workplace discrimination. So far more than 520 large organisations with 250 or more workers have already published their figures before the April 2018 government deadline. Firms such as EasyJet and Virgin are withstanding the scrutiny of the gender pay gap as the big earners tend to be Pilots, the vast majority who are men.
But it also comes under no surprise to see large discrepancies in the financial and banking sectors, commonly known as a male-oriented environment.
“Women are still being held back in their careers”, MP Anne Milton
MP Anne Milton says more needs to be done as UK companies start to reveal gender pay gap information.
Speaking in December, the Guildford MP and Minister of State for Apprenticeships, Skills and Women said, “Despite the Equal Pay Act being passed nearly 50 years ago, too many women are still held back in their careers.
“During that time the gender pay gap has reduced, but it has not reduced enough. The pay gap won’t close on its own – we all need to take action to make sure we address this. That is why we have introduced a legal requirement for all large employers to publish their gender pay and bonus data by April 2018.”
This newfound transparency was what the BBC had been aiming for when it published its original top 100list last summer, followed by a series of pay reviews and audits in October that found men were being paid on average 9.3% more than women – considerably better than the national average of 18.1%. However, also in October City law firm Mishcon de Ray announced that it was working with women at the BBC to advise on their rights and in interviews since her resignation Gracie, has revealed that up to 200 women have complained to management over pay. Gracie herself was offered a grievance hearing and pay rise, from £135000 to £18000 but she declined.
America rejects pay scrutiny
Of course, it’s not just in the UK where women are feeling the pay gap. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women working full time in 2016 made 81 cents for each dollar made by a man. And as the New York Times reported, the gap is larger among college graduates, and “far larger in business, finance and legal careers than in science and technology jobs.” The gap increases with age when women marry and begin having children.
Under President Trump, the White House’s gender pay gap more than tripled, a female employee can expect to earn $72,650, compared to $115,000 for a male.
The administration has also halted a similar ruling to the UK, which called for large companies to report pay within race and gender categories. Introduced by Obama, it was deemed unpopular with those that have lobbied for better policies around equal pay.
With top law firms currently advising women who work at a senior level within organisations, it might be possible that the first wave of discriminative legal action is seen before the April deadline. Prompted by women like Carrie Gracie.