Scott’s stance: Equal pay progression develops in wake of gender pay gap reporting

Scott's stance

Legal action brought by law firm Leigh Day this month is once again banging the equal pay drum, as retailer Tesco comes under fire for reportedly paying primarily female store-based staff less than the predominantly male workforce at its distribution centres. As of 12 July 2018, Leigh Day has lodged 1,000 equal pay claims, with approximately 75% of the claimants being women.

Ironically, equal pay is big business. Leigh Day estimates that pay shortfalls for a possible 250,000 Tesco employees could reach £20,000. This certainly raises the question of whether employers who have previously short-changed female staff to cut cost corners will receive the gains they might have expected, as enlightened employees are grasping the equal pay mantle to rightly receive equal wages for equal work.

In a similar vein, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has visibly returned to its gender pay gap statistics, in conjunction with the launch of its culture report on 5 July 2018. The media organisation was the subject of gender pay furore last summer, has now reduced its mean gender pay gap for fixed hourly pay from 10.7% to 8.4% between July 2017 and July 2018. Its very public journey of correcting pay wrongs will prove an interesting exercise in light of the BBC’s expected publication of pay figures for its highest paid women, due this week.

But, despite the undercurrent of investigating less-than-ideal pay situations in terms of equal and gender pay, research by professional services firm Willis Towers Watson this week highlights that this is an issue very much on employers’ agendas. More than half (51%) of UK respondents confirmed that they have recently checked their pay arrangements to ensure they are meeting equal pay obligations, with a further 29% of respondents planning to do this in the near future. The research also found that 23% of global respondents believe gender pay equality is an important factor in base pay decisions.

Pay is, and always will be, one of the key cornerstone benefits employees use to measure their value as a staff member, as well as to rate how they are performing and contributing to the organisation. Employees who are paid fairly, across gender, race, sexual orientation or otherwise, will, in my opinion, produce more discretionary effort and collaboration than employees who feel that their pay is not representative, of themselves or their work.

Katie Scott