It is easy for organisations to present statistics regarding their workforce; acknowledging the work that needs to be done to make an equal working environment. Enacting change is another kettle of fish all together. Hopefully, it starts this week.
That was the deadline for organisations to publish their workplace gender pay gap data. Apple and Facebook were among those revealing their figures.
For those in favour of gender pay equality (who wouldn’t be?) they were not happy reading: Facebook’s bonuses for female staff were 41.5 percent lower than men’s. Apple bonuses, at 57 percent lower, meant median bonus pay was less than half that of men.
An Unfair Bite of the Apple
The number of organisations that have admitted to paying their male workers more than their female equivalents is staggering, with eight out of ten large companies admitting to this being the case.
In total 78 percent of large organisations admitted to having a gender pay gap, in favour of males in the workplace, with just 14 percent having a median pay gap in favour of women. The most shocking figure was that only 8 percent have no pay gap at all.
Although the issue occurs in almost every industry, the technology sector has faced timeless battles to ensure the gap between men and women generally is closed, let alone the pay gap. The likes of Apple and Facebook have exemplified this, admitting that males are paid significantly more than their female counterparts.
In the midst of its data scandal, Facebook was one of the many on the hit list of companies failing to equally pay their companies. Figures revealed that both the female mean hourly rate and bonus rate are lower than their male equivalents.
What needs to be done to enact real change?
Computer Business Review spoke to several figures in the technology industry, in a bid to shed light on the issue.
“I believe it’s going to have to be addressed in a legal manner,” Tara O’Sullivan, Chief Creative Officer at Skillsoft, told Computer Business Review.
“Take Iceland for instance, which has passed a law making it the employer’s responsibility to prove that employees are being paid equally. That’s what’s needed, because culturally, we are notoriously bad at talking about our salaries. Enshrining this law would force us to deal with the consequences.”
Organisations try to ‘justify’ the issue…
Many organisations justify their pay gap due to having a higher proportion of males in teams such as engineering and top-level positions, in comparison to other working areas. However this exemplifies further issues within the industries, which more females need to be taking on executive roles.
Does the question of why it exists in the first place also need to be answered first?
“The causes of the gender pay gap are complex. It’s not simply about being a man or a woman. The root cause of the disparity is often simply that there are a greater proportion of men than women in senior roles,” Steve Wainwright, Managing Director, EMEA at Skillsoft, said. “Tapping into this talent requires changes across the board. This includes adapting behaviour, process and the culture within an organisation. Ultimately, the fact that a gender pay gap still exists in 2018 is disappointing. Progress is being made – but there’s still work to be done.”
Organisations like Apple have claimed to be taking steps in the right direction by employing more females, to outweigh the numbers and demonstrate the gap only exists due to number of employees not unfairness. However, the problem lies further beneath the surface of how many people are employed and more into the ethical mind-set and workers in the business.
Tackling the problem to the extreme
It seems it is going to take more than engraining equality into the brains of employers, but to what extent will organisations need to go to in order to ensure it happens?
The UK Government has also demonstrated seriously tackling the gender pay gap, making it clear that those organisations that fail to report their workforce figures will face legal action. Is this the only way forward, or does the work need to start closer to home?
Demonstrating that the problem is entrenched is one thing, but now moving forward to take action on the figures is another thing for organisations.
What needs to be looked at now is the best way forward to tackle the issue in the long run – and what should be next on the agenda for businesses.
“Tackling the gender pay gap in the traditionally male-dominated technology industry requires a concerted effort at every level of the organization, to recruit and retain female talent in the workforce, “ Sheila Flavel, COO at FDM Group, told Computer Business Review.
“To remedy this problem, companies need to introduce improved flexible working policies and provide dedicated programmes to recruit returners and work with employees across the company to change for the better, reducing the gap and creating a more vibrant workforce. Closing the gender pay gap shouldn’t be a tick box exercise, it should be about creating a more diverse and productive workforce that ensures everyone is treated fairly – we want to create a country that works for everyone.”