The gender pay gap should not exist. But it does, as we were reminded today by the Chartered Management Institute report on corporate pay. It is simply unacceptable for a man to get paid more than a woman for doing the same job. The government has taken steps to support equal pay by making pay secrecy clauses illegal and by giving tribunals the power to force employers that break equal pay laws to carry out equal pay audits. The government can do more to highlight the need for gender equality; but, ultimately, businesses decide their workers’ pay.
CEOs, HR executives and remuneration committees must root out unfair pay practices because there is no excuse for sustaining them in this day and age. This is part of the larger challenge we face to increase the role of women at senior levels in business (it is scarcely credible that there is only one female chairman and just 3 female CEOs in the entire FTSE 100.) Rewarding performance equally at all levels of a business is a no-brainer. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of having more women at senior levels in organisations, so it is good business sense to resolve pay inequality so that companies don’t lose valuable female talent.
This process needn’t be painful. Many businesses are looking to change their compensation programmes to move away from a bonus-driven culture. I urge them to do a full-scale review of pay to ensure that rewards are fair and driven solely by performance. And I encourage them to sign up to the government’s Think, Act, Report scheme, which encourages companies to improve the way that they recruit, promote and pay women.
Women themselves can be more proactive in fighting gender pay gaps. Women should have the confidence to say that they add value to a business, rather than wait for someone else to notice their contributions. And, as I argued in a recent report, women should find a sponsor to represent them in salary and promotion discussions.
We may take some heart from the fact that female graduates are now earning at least as much as their male counterparts when they join the workforce. It is important that this new generation of female managers continues to demand that their performance is valued equally throughout their careers.
We must continue to raise the profile of corporate gender pay; and the leaders of British businesses must take action.
Mary Macleod is the Conservative MP for Brentford and IsleworthTags: Chartered Management Institute, Gender, Pay and wages, UK politics