It’s Equal Pay Day 2014: Sorry women, you’re working for free until January

Unhappy Equal Pay Day! Yep, as The Telegraph reports, today marks the point in the year after which women are effectively working for free thanks to the gender pay gap. (Thanks, gender pay gap. You’re too kind.) What’s more (or as it turns out, less), the gap has widened since last year, adding three more days of exploitation.

Between 1997 and 2010, the gender pay gap in the UK was closing, but since then, it’s widened again, now standing at a massive 19.7%. That means women earn an average of £2.53 less per hour than men, or 80p for every £1 a man brings in. And if you’re thinking, ‘Hey, didn’t we institute laws against that kind of thing?’ you’re right: the Equal Pay Act was introduced FORTY YEARS AGO to ensure women and men receive the same amount of money for work of equivalent value. Yet things are only getting worse: while we used to be consistently in the top 20, we’re now 26th in the world for gender equality, according to The Global Gender Gap Report. Apparently, men’s value can’t be equalled. Hmm.

So, what can be done? The CEO of the Chartered Management Institute Ann Francke told the Telegraph that companies could start by publishing employee salaries, and setting targets to improve women’s pay. Rebecca Winson at the Huffington Post thinks we all need to work together for fairer pay, as thousands of female ASDA employees are currently doing. But Ingrid Waterfield, a director at professional services firm KPMG, thinks we need to go further to tackle the sexist culture that can permeate institutions/the world, and that revolutionising hiring practices to remove unconscious prejudice would be an important step forward.

She says, ‘Managers who make decisions about pay and promotions need to be educated to ensure their assessments are free from bias. It’s often inconsistencies on the part of line managers that lead to discrepancies in pay so it is just as important to ensure decisions are based on pre-agreed criteria, rather than personal relationships, especially where performance-related pay decisions are concerned.’

In the meantime, maybe we should all put our feet on our desks and kick back from now until the new year. Sure, that would mean we have no jobs to come back to, but there’s no gender gap when it comes to Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Image via Pixabay.

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Diane Shipley

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