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.

There’s no good reason why we should have to wait another day.

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.

 

Tesco has defended itself as an employer that offers equal opportunities to progress, and Leigh Day have been quick to acknowledge the gender equality projects that Tesco has signed up to in good faith. But equality of opportunity that bypasses equality of earnings has a hollow ring to it.

 

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 those we admire. We have to stand up for those whose fame and employability mystifies us. We have to stand up for everyone.

At Jane Systems we believe in equality of opportunity in principle and practice. That’s why our software includes a gender pay gap analysis function.

Following the guiding principles set out in last year’s ACAS publication on managing gender pay reporting, Jane software delivers complete transparency in this crucial area.

The Jane gender pay gap analysis tool shows users the precise percentage difference between male and female remuneration across an organisation, covering a wide range of employment scenarios. Employers can use that information any way they choose, of course, but we’re fortunate to have partners whose decisions are based on ethical common sense. They value all staff equally and see the injustice and sheer folly of not following that principle on payday.

 

It’s 2018. We shouldn’t still have to have this conversation or make this kind of analysis. But this is the world we live in and we need to be vigilant and clear-sighted. Jane Systems delivers that vigilance and clarity in all areas of business. Think of us as your partners in progress.

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