Gender pay gap in the UK

Subject: Gender Studies
Pages: 5
Word count: 1469
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Introduction

Gender parity has always been an issue of importance in the society. The equality between men and women has been an elusive accomplishment in the past. As such, men have always had the upper hand over the women in their professional lives. The gender pay gap is just one relevant instance of if gender disparity. Mortimer (2018) describes the prevalence of unequal pay between men and women in the UK. According to the article, men were paid 9% -10% more than their female counterparts on average leading to the conclusion that a wage disparity exists based on gender in the UK. The application of pay transparency policies as well as restricting salary negotiations provides an opportunity to solve the issue. The central goal of this report is to provide a viable solution to reducing the wage gap between men and women.

Background

The UK has an infamous history of gender disparity in wages. According to Monaghan (2017), the wage gap between men and women in the early 1990s stood at approximately 17.4%. However, the law of the UK has motivated compliance with non-discrimination statutes (Mortimer, 2018). The Equality Act of 2010 is straightforward legislation that explicitly grants women the right to salaries equivalent to those paid to men for the same job. Statistics from the UK-based equal-pay portal indicate a prevalence of wage disparity among women and men in the country. A noteworthy aspect of this difference is its intensification for professionals beyond the age of 40 (Equal-pay Portal, n.d.). Additionally, men seem to dominate the full-time job market further enhancing their position as the highest paid gender. This disparity arises from cultural perceptions of gender that have been present in the society. The social gender roles dictate that men work while women act as homemakers (The Guardian, 2016). Therefore, the acceptability of women in the workforce at similar rates to men has been a challenge. Additionally, the political elite is composed mainly of men, thereby leading reduced emphasis on addressing the gender disparity.

Options

Finding a solution to wage inequality based on gender requires radical changes in the workplace to enforce this equality. Legislation on equality has facilitated some progress. However, organizations and governments need to improve their approach to obtain better results using the following options.

Pay transparency

Pay transparency refers to a policy of disclosure of employee salaries. The idea seeks to improve the organisational accountability towards equal pay by broadcasting the wages of its employees. This approach aims to ensure that all employees are aware of their colleague’s earnings for comparative purposes (O’Connor, 2017). A vital issue surrounding the wage inequality debate was the privacy that surrounded the payment process. As such, women were oblivious to the differences in pay that existed between them and their male counterparts. The process involves providing a public channel of communication for displaying the salaries. The expected outcome is that women will notice the differences and demand higher incomes by using the wage values of their male counterparts as bargaining chips.

Eliminating salary negotiations

The second approach involves the elimination of salary negotiations altogether. The professional work environment is a male-dominated arena meaning that participation by women is seen as an exception to the norm. As such, women’s voices is stifled within this workplace (Afoko, 2017). For instance, women who ask for pay rises to match their male counterparts may develop a reputation for being demanding or overly aggressive. Such efforts also lead to rejection in a majority of the cases. As such, eliminating the aspect of negotiation and maintaining a single absolute salary amount for both genders will help improve inequality by reducing the negotiation handicap possessed by women.

Requirements

The solutions for the gender wage gap should be adequate to address a social crisis. The issue of sexism is a crucial factor to consider in the definition of social and community welfare. The UK law calls for the establishment of equality between all people irrespective of their gender (Equal-pay Portal, n.d.). To this effect, a need exists to offset this disparity, as it exists today. In fact, salary discrimination places undue financial stress on women who have responsibilities towards their family’s welfare. As such, the solutions proposed to mitigate the disparity have to be useful to promote the realization of gender equality and prevent discrimination.

The public plays a crucial role in the success of a particular social change. The people’s acceptability of a change determines its effectiveness as well as long-lasting implications on the society. Gender equality is an issue of critical importance to the community due to its cultural roots. As such, the public’s acceptance of justice in the remuneration of employees can contribute to a change in the people’s perception of gender-based values. It can also lead to social changes by accepting these options as standard practice in any workplace.

Comparison

Effectiveness

Pay transparency and a non-negotiation policy each work towards alleviating gender-based discrimination in the workplace. The pay transparency approach helps to point out instances of discrimination in the workplace by highlighting pay differences (Friedman, 2014). It is considered valid since the women in the workplace can be in a position to renegotiate their salaries to achieve equality by bargaining against the wages of the men. On the other hand, the non-negotiation policy does not provide an opportunity to offer customized remuneration packages (Fortune, 2014). All employees within a particular job group receive similar salaries irrespective of their gender. The pay transparency option has been implemented successfully in the BBC that publicly released a list of its executives who make earnings above 150,000 pounds (Larsen, 2017). The organization demonstrated its commitment to pay equality in the workplace. The non-negotiation approach already exists in professions such as paramedics where the employees do the same job. Such institutions offer regularized salaries that are not up for negotiation, thereby eliminating gender-based discrimination.

However, these options have their demerits. The pay transparency approach does not offer any particular guarantees for the standardization of wages. In fact, it could have an adverse impact on employee morale (Zenger, 2016). For example, employees who realize that they are the victim of gender-discrimination may resent their employer leading to demoralization in the workplace. On the other hand, the non-negotiation policy may discourage employees who feel undervalued for their performance also contributing to low morale, especially since it minimizes any opportunity for wage mobility. Therefore, each of these approaches has their benefits and drawbacks upon their implementation. Despite these demerits, these options provide opportunities to minimize cases of gender-based wage inequality in the UK workplace.

Public acceptance

Pay transparency has remained a controversial issue in many workplaces. Traditionally, employers and human resource managers determined and implemented personalized pay packages. This information also continued at the discretion of these individuals (Hill, 2016). The common perception in the business community was to preserve the secrecy. However, social progression has contributed significantly to changes in this discretionary policy. In fact, the UK government’s initiative to urge employers to disclose salaries is evidence of social progress. In doing so, one can infer that the efforts expressed by the government are a representation of the political and social perception surrounding the option (Friedman, 2014). Therefore, the approach seems acceptable to the public. Nevertheless, the implementation of the policy is in its infant stages as the business community changes its disclosure policies.

Non-negotiable salaries are an acceptable hiring practice in the workplace. Negotiation is usually a tricky aspect of the hiring process. For instance, salaries lower than the industry average are a form of employee exploitation while high wages are unsustainable (Kuang & Moser, 2011). From the employee perspective, determining the expected salary is a challenge since a low figure leads to an undervaluation of skills while a high number implies overconfidence and a lack of realism (Elsesser, 2015). As such, the non-negotiable pay ensures that all employees receive equal compensation while the company maintains a predictable valuation of its workforce. A standard salary prevents any form of favouritism or discrimination based on gender.

Conclusions

  • Women in the UK earn between 9% -10% less compared to their male counterparts.
  • Gender-based wage discrimination is based on society’s perception of gender roles.
  • Pay transparency highlights pay disparity and motivate renegotiation to achieve equality.
  • Non-negotiable salaries level the playing field and eliminate discrimination.
  • Pay transparency is appropriate in the UK since it fits into the country’s socially progressive image.
  • Non-negotiable salaries eliminate the unfair opportunities where men obtain higher remunerations by negotiating.

Recommendations

Enforcing non-negotiable pay packages is a practical approach towards eliminating gender bias in salary allocation. It is a full-proof plan that alleviates personalized remuneration packages. Women within this system are assured of achieving parity with their male colleagues for the same job. As such, the non-negotiation policy is appropriate to the UK context to help speed up efforts to reach wage equality.

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  1. Afoko, C. (2017). Ban individual salary negotiations – it would help gender pay equality | Carys Afoko. The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/02/ban-individual-salary-negotiations-gender-pay-equality
  2. Elsesser, K. (2015). Two Solutions for the Gender Pay Gap That Can Be Implemented Today. Forbes.com. Retrieved 27 January 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimelsesser/2015/11/19/two-solutions-for-the-gender-pay-gap-that-can-be-implemented-today/#485cfdc42d35
  3. Equal-Pay Portal. (n.d.). Statistics. Equal Pay Portal. Retrieved January 26, 2018, from http://www.equalpayportal.co.uk/statistics/
  4. Fortune. (2014). How fair is it to offer a job with a non-negotiable salary? Fortune. Retrieved 27 January 2018, from http://fortune.com/2014/07/16/how-fair-is-it-to-offer-a-job-with-a-non-negotiable-salary/
  5. Friedman, D. S. (2014). Pay transparency: The new way of doing business. Compensation & Benefits Review, 46(5-6), 292-294. 10.1177/0886368714560482
  6. Hill, A. (2016). Pay transparency is the last taboo in business. Ft.com. Retrieved 27 January 2018, from https://www.ft.com/content/17856f62-360f-11e6-9a05-82a9b15a8ee7
  7. Kuang, X., & Moser, D. V. (2011). Wage negotiation, employee effort, and firm profit under Output‐Based versus Fixed‐Wage incentive contracts. Contemporary Accounting Research, 28(2), 616-642. 10.1111/j.1911-3846.2010.01050.x
  8. Larsen, P. (2017). BBC stars will gain from radical pay transparency. U.S. Reuters. Retrieved 27 January 2018, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-bbc-breakingviews/bbc-stars-will-gain-from-radical-pay-transparency-idUSKBN1A41SB
  9. Monaghan, A. (2017). UK gender pay gap narrows to lowest for 20 years – but is still 9.1%. The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/26/uk-gender-pay-gap-narrows-to-lowest-for-20-years-but-is-still-91
  10. Mortimer, C. (2018). Gender pay gap at more than 500 large organisations revealed. The Independent. Retrieved 27 January 2018, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/gender-pay-gap-527-companies-data-publish-government-equal-pay-women-feminism-boardrooms-a8145866.html
  11. O’Connor, S. (2017). Executive pay transparency will push workers to demand more money. Ft.com. Retrieved 27 January 2018, from https://www.ft.com/content/32e1132c-918c-11e7-a9e6-11d2f0ebb7f0
  12. The Guardian. (2016). Equal pay is still far-off for Britain, where the gender gap narrows at a glacial pace. The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/06/equal-pay-gender-gap-britain-women-earnings-men
  13. Zenger, T. (2016). The Case Against Pay Transparency. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 27 January 2018, from https://hbr.org/2016/09/the-case-against-pay-transparency
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