Why It’s Time To Talk (More) About The Gender Pay Gap
Remember back in 2018, when companies with more than 250 employees published their gender pay gap figures for the first time?
Their results confirmed what we already suspected: the gender pay gap is very much real.
Three-quarters of large firms reported paying men more than women. At Ryanair, women earnt just 28p for every £1 earnt by men per median hourly rate. Barclays Bank had a median gender pay gap of 43.5%. Even women’s high street lingerie chain Boux Avenue had a 75.7% gender pay gap.
Fast forward a year and companies published their figures once more. But far from having been inspired to review their pay processes, the gender pay gap had actually increased at nearly half of the UK’s biggest companies in 2019.
It’s clear that we still have a long way to go.
Many women still feel anxious to ask for more money, with 55.1% having never negotiated their salary. Meanwhile, two in three men are comfortable asking their employer for more money – and are statistically more likely to get it.
At the root of this issue is our discomfort talking money matters.
There’s a general belief, for example, that we shouldn’t discuss our salaries with coworkers. In reality, employees have the legal right to tell others what they earn, and this transparency could make significant strides in creating workplaces where people are paid fairly, based on their skills and experience.
The positive implications of opening up the conversation around women and money extend beyond the workplace, too.
In Norway, everyone’s salaries are public and can be easily looked up online. If the thought of that makes you wince, consider this: the World Economic Forum ranks Norway third out of 144 countries in terms of wage equality for similar work.
Not only could talking about salaries help level the playing field – it could also help women save more.
The number of female investors is growing yet remains markedly behind men. In the 2018 tax year, women opened 892,000 stocks and shares ISA accounts compared to 1.1m opened by men. On average, women invest 40% less than men – yet consistently earn higher returns and outperform male investors.
We’re all familiar with the term gender pay gap, but there’s a gender investment gap that is yet to be fully acknowledged. Solving it is a crucial part of making women feel more confident and in control of their finances.
This, in turn, will help shift how we perceive and talk about women and money to create a virtuous circle. Check out our blog on the different perceptions of men and women in power to read more on how unconsciously gendered our everyday language is.
Increasing transparency around the gender pay gap is undoubtedly positive. But to drive real change, the conversation must keep going. It must keep going until it’s no longer a taboo topic; until it’s an everyday discussion among colleagues, friends and society.
Only then can we fully close the gender pay gap and make it just another outdated concept stuck firmly in the past, alongside now seemingly absurd beliefs like not allowing women the vote.
Interested to learn more about women and money to keep the conversation going?
We recommend checking out these 5 podcasts and books:
- A good time to be a girl by Helena Morrisey
- Girlboss radio podcast with Sophia Amoruso
- More or less: behind the gender pay gap on BBC Radio 4
- Pound foolish by Helaine Olen
- Suze Orman’s Women and Money podcast