Charities are not doing very well on equal pay

We need to work on the relationship between attitudes and stereotypes about women's worth in the workplace, and on the pay gaps, writes Gill Taylor

Gill Taylor
Gill Taylor

Women - get out those new diaries and plan ahead for November.

The current gender pay gap means that a woman doing the same job as a man earns nothing, in effect, after a particular day in November. This day is referred to as Equal Pay Day and varies according to the actual pay gap each year: in 2015, Equal Pay Day was 9 November. Forty-five years after the Equal Pay Act women, on average, earn 86p for every £1 a man earns for equal work of equal value.

How you present the statistics matters a lot. The mean gap for full-time work is 13.9 per cent; the median gap is 9.4 per cent. There has been no change this year in the median figure for the gap in part-time work, which is 19.2 per cent. The median has its merits in capturing typical pay; the mean's strength is that it captures the extreme ends of the pay scale - which means it includes the men who hold the highest-paying jobs.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, says the pay gap for full-time work is closing, but slowly. She says: "This is no cause for celebration and proves again why we must speed up the pace of change."

Our sector is not immune to gender pay discrimination. The government does not collect consolidated pay data for the third sector, so we have to look at published pay surveys. The 2014/15 Acevo pay survey (for chief executive and senior management team roles only) found that 52 per cent of chief executive respondents to the survey were male, but women were in a majority in senior management team roles. Comparing the median salaries, women senior managers earned 10 per cent less on average than their male counterparts, but certain roles had a much worse gap, with women deputy chief executives and medical directors earning about 30 per cent less.

Encouragingly, for the chief executive role, the Acevo survey found that female leaders of very large (greater than £15m turnover) charities received a larger median salary than men. The biggest negative gap for chief executives was -7.8 per cent in medium charities (£1m-£5m turnover). So we are not immune, even if we generally don't engineer as big a gap as other sectors.

At some point next year, large organisations (250 or more employees) will be required to publish their gender pay differences. It would be better if there were stiff penalties for the worst of these.

So what's the issue for third sector employers? Do you really think women are worth less than men? We need to work on the relationship between attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes about women's worth in the workplace, and on the pay gap.

What we can do is unblock the pipeline: support women to progress to higher-paid jobs; tackle unconscious bias around worth; and use targets to measure progress and focus minds.

Gill Taylor is a sector HR consultant

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