Yesterday saw the 100th anniversary of partial voting rights being granted to British women. Fate decreed that it would also be a day to discuss the gender pay gap that still faces them. In 1997 the difference between male and female earnings in the UK was 27.5%. By 2017 the disparity was down to 18.4%. While this represents progress, it’s coming at a rate that suggests we may have to wait another 40 years for parity.
Tesco is widely regarded as a fair, supportive employer, so yesterday’s news that thousands of the retail giant’s female staff are mounting a legal challenge for back pay raised eyebrows. These women are claiming pay parity with men in similarly demanding roles, and Leigh Day, the law firm acting on their behalf, are making a persuasive case. It’s been revealed that the most common hourly rate for female employees is £8 while the equivalent for men is £11. Arguments that the physical demands of warehouse work justifies significantly better may not stand up; if we take that thought to its logical conclusion then pickers and packers in retailer warehouses might claim the right to higher wages than white collar workers who never break a sweat.
This hard-hitting review of Tesco policy was followed yesterday morning by a softer-hitting investigation on a BBC current affairs show revealing that female contestants on the latest series of “Love Island” were paid less for subsequent promotional work than their male co-stars. Some might argue that there are worthier standard bearers for equality of opportunity. Others might wonder why anyone would choose to employ a Love Island alumnus of either sex. But if we’re serious about pay parity then we can’t just stand up for […]