Guest Blog: Why employers need to say what they pay

This is a guest blog by Joe Levenson – Director, Policy, Research and Communications, Young Women’s Trust

While it has been illegal in the UK for over 50 years for women to be paid less than men for equal work, at Young Women’s Trust we know from our work supporting young women struggling to live on low or no pay that there remain considerable pay inequalities.

As a recent YouGov survey for Young Women’s Trust revealed, 1 in 5 female HR managers (20%) say that women in their organisation are paid less than men for jobs at the same level. The research also found that over a third (38%) of female HR bosses disagreed that their organisation had taken proactive measures to reduce its gender pay gap over the last year and almost a quarter of female HR bosses (24%) said that their organisation did not understand how to reduce its gender pay gap.

That’s why it was a mistake to suspend gender pay gap reporting for so long due to the pandemic, and why it’s so important that employers are required to provide a comprehensive narrative to explain the impact of the pandemic on their workforce alongside the next round of pay gap reporting. We also believe that pay gap reporting should be extended as a priority to include other protected characteristics.

The lack of good quality intersectional data and insight is also why we recently launched the Research Centre for Young Women’s Economic Justice last month, which kicked off its activities with a report on missing data. The Centre will combine peer research with statistics and data, to build a unique evidence base on young women’s lives to call for the change that young women need to achieve economic justice, We would love to collaborate with other organisations who share our approach and commitment to shining a light on economic inequalities.

Without this sort of transparency about the inequalities that continue to face so many marginalised groups, it is impossible to truly understand either the nature of the problems or the adequacy of policy solutions.

Yet we know that many employers remain reluctant to introduce greater transparency.

In what has been a really tough year for so much of the charity sector, one of the shining successes has been the work of the Show the Salary campaign, set up to tackle pay gaps in the charity sector.

At Young Women’s Trust we are proud to be supporters of Show the Salary and to practice what we preach.

We strongly believe that all employers, whatever sector they are in, should commit to advertising jobs with salary details and to stop asking applicants about how much they earn. We also want to see employers publish their parental leave policies so that so that prospective employees know what support they would be entitled to without having to ask at an interview – something we have done at Young Women’s Trust, where we make it clear on our website and in application packs that we offer six months parental leave at full pay to all new parents.

However, there’s still a long way to go, both within the charity sector and more widely, not least in sectors such as journalism which for all their talk of wanting to become more diverse rarely give salaries in job adverts.

Across the country, new findings from our work with YouGov show that 4 in 10 of all employers say that jobs in their organisation are often advertised without salary details. Yet, there is ample evidence which shows that this lack of transparency perpetuates existing pay inequalities and makes it so much easier for employers to underpay certain groups including women.

This needs to change and if employers don’t up their game, then the government should introduce legislation to force change.

It really shouldn’t be controversial to bring about salary transparency, unless employers have something to hide?

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