Lovewell’s logic: Is cutting male pay the solution to gender pay inequality?

debbie lovewell-tuck

Would you agree to a cut in pay if it meant others within your organisation could enjoy a rise, thus placing you all on a more equal footing?

This may not sound like a particularly appealing or realistic option, however strongly they may feel against pay inequality. Yet, several BBC presenters recently made the headlines – rather than reading them – when they did just this.

In a week when the outcome of a review into the BBC’s pay equality was published by its auditors PWC, some of the broadcaster’s well-known presenters, including Jeremy Vine, John Humphris and Huw Edwards, agreed to have their pay cut in response to the organisation’s gender pay inequalities.

This was followed by the news that Easyjet’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, is to take a £34,000 pay cut in order to bring his annual salary in line with that of his female predecessor immediately before she departed the airline. He claimed that the move is intended to demonstrate his commitment to equal pay, at a time when the airline had posted one of the largest gender pay gaps among organisations that have reported this data ahead of the gender pay gap reporting regulations due to come into effect in April.

Of course all of the individuals concerned earn significantly higher salaries than the majority of the UK’s working population, so agreeing to reduce pay may not have as much of a day-to-day impact as that of the average worker. But, even so, is lowering the salaries of male employees really the right approach to reducing organisations’ gender pay gaps?

Rather than simply looking to bring existing salaries into line, shouldn’t they instead be looking for a longer-term solution and focusing on tackling the issues that have led to such inequality in the first place?

After all, in the majority of cases, pay inequality has often arisen from a much more complex set of circumstances than simply paying one group of employees less than another.

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
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