Call for greater transparency on pay

A Fawcett Society survey for Equal Pay Day finds women are more likely to say that disclosing past earnings led to a lower wage offer in a new role.

equal pay with gender sign instead of the 'q'


Campaigners have urged employers to stop asking new recruits for their salary history, saying it not only discriminates against women, people of colour and people with disabilities, but also reinforces the gender pay gap.

A survey by the Fawcett Society found that asking details about previous earnings was also unreliable, with four in 10 working adults having lied about their past salary.

The survey of 2,000 workers found that 58% of women and 54% of men said that disclosing their past earnings meant they were offered a lower wage than they would have got otherwise.

Meanwhile, 61% of women said being asked about their salary had damaged their confidence to ask for better pay, while 53% of men said the same.

Fawcett Society chief executive Jemima Olchawski said: “Asking about salary history can mean past pay discrimination follows women, people of colour, and people with disabilities throughout their career. It also means new employers replicate pay gaps from other organisations.”

The poll was conducted to mark Equal Pay Day today – the day in the year when women effectively, on average, stop earning relative to men because of the gender pay gap. This is calculated using the mean hourly pay gap for full-time workers from the Office for National Statistics. The gap this year stands at 11.9%, up from 10.6% in 2020.

Meanwhile, a new survey from Glassdoor, has found that women across the UK are being disadvantaged due to a lack of salary transparency.

The survey found that just one in four full-time employees in the UK strongly agree their workplace is transparent about pay. Furthermore, over half (54 percent) of workers admit they are apprehensive about discussing salary with their boss.

It also found that 67 percent of female workers did not ask for a pay rise in 2020, 30 percent more than men. In the last year just one third (35 percent) of those working in the traditionally female-dominated industries of education, healthcare, and hospitality asked for a wage increase compared to 62 percent of those working in the traditionally male-dominated world of finance and 56 percent in tech.

Women are also 26 percent less likely than their male counterparts to ask for more money in the next 12 months, with the survey finding just 37 percent of women plan to ask for a pay rise next year.

Over half (56 percent) of women admit they lack the confidence to ask for a pay rise. As a result, just 33 percent of female workers negotiated the salary of their last job offer (compared to 45 percent of men). Two in five (43 percent) women revealed that they simply accepted the salary that was offered to them (compared to 35 percent of men).

Nearly three in four of all employees (73 percent) got the wage increase they asked for last year.

Further findings include that over half (51 percent) of employees feel that their workplace should be doing more to close the gender pay gap, with male workers 20 percent more likely than women to agree to this point. In addition, one in 2 women (50 percent) feel unfairly paid for their role in their current company (compared to 44 percent of men) and only 50 percent feel pay and promotions are handled fairly within their organisation (versus 58 percent of men).

“Workplace transparency is a hallmark of many successful companies and more transparency is needed in the future,” says Glassdoor’s Career Expert Jill Cotton. “One in two women admit to lacking confidence at work – companies should open an honest discussion around salary from the point that the role is advertised and throughout the person’s time with the organisation. Having clear salary bands limits the need for negotiation which, as the Glassdoor research shows, has a detrimental effect on female employees’ ability to earn throughout their career.”

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