Women should have the right to know men’s pay if they suspect discrimination, says Fawcett Society on Equal Pay Day.
The Fawcett Society is calling for a change in the law to allow women the right to know what their male colleagues are being paid if they suspect pay discrimination as a survey shows significant numbers of women who know their male counterparts’ pay say men doing equivalent work earn more than them.
The call for greater pay transparency, which the Fawcett Society says is backed by 79% of people it polled for a report, including three quarters of men, comes on Equal Pay Day, the day of the year from which women effectively work for free due to the gender pay gap.
The Why women need a right to know report asked women about male colleagues in the same role or a very similar role to them. It shows 60% of women in workplaces across the UK either don’t know what their male colleagues earn or believe they are earning less than men who are doing the same job. Three in ten (29%) women polled said that they had no idea what any of their male colleagues were paid, leaving them unaware of possible discrimination. Four in ten (37%) women who knew what their male counterparts earned reported that those men are paid more.
Just 40% of working women said they know they are being paid the same as male colleagues doing the same or very similar work to them. 65% of women said finding out they are paid less than male counterparts has a detrimental impact on how they feel about their job or their employer. This includes feeling less motivated (33%) and wanting to leave their job (20%). 42% said unequal pay made them feel undervalued and 38% reported feeling angry and upset. Fewer than one in four (23%) said they understood the reasons they were paid less.
Fawcett Society chief executive Sam Smethers said: “Pay secrecy means women cannot know if they are being paid equally and fairly. Even if they do suspect a man is earning more it is almost impossible to do anything about it. This is why we are calling for a change in the law.”
She said that women need an enforceable “right to know” about what their colleagues earn so that they can challenge unequal pay. “Men can help by simply telling their female colleagues what they earn. It really is that simple,” she added.
Equal pay and the gender pay gap are issues in the general election with Labour vowing to close the gender pay gap by 2030, claiming that it would take another 60 years to do so under a Conservative government. Labour has also said it would create a Worker’s Protection Agency to ensure companies report their gender pay gap and action plans to address it. The Conservatives say the pay gap is “at a record low” and set out a “roadmap” for gender equality earlier this year. The Liberal Democrats have pledged to legislate to tackle the gender pay gap by forcing bigger companies to publish data on employment levels by gender, as well as for BAME and LGBT staff.
A poll for Equal Pay Day by the Equality Group shows nearly a fifth of workers believe that women are less efficient than men, despite productivity statistics from 2019 indicating the opposite.
The poll of 2,000 workers finds that 17% of people agree that, although they don’t like to admit it, they feel that the men in their office are more capable than the women. This is despite studies from the World Economic Forum showing that women in the office are 10% more productive than their male colleagues.
The poll also shows that 54% of women think that stereotypical masculine qualities are held in higher regard in the hiring/promotion process than female characteristics, 34% of women feel that their male colleagues are called on for more pressured/demanding/serious business activities and events than women and 21% of men believe the women in the management team where they work expect less from women than they do from men. A third – 31% – of people feel that their male colleagues are called on for more pressured/ demanding/ serious business activities and events than women. A quarter – 26% – of people feel there is more gender bias expressed from their female boss/bosses than that of male management. 17% of people believe the women in the management team where they work expect less from women than they do from men.
Sasha Graham, Director of Operations of Equality Group, said the statistics show the impact of bias. She addedd: “As a society, we must stand together to combat these stereotypes, and revoke these ingrained perceptions of masculine superiority. Today we recognise Equal Pay Day as an opportunity to alter the gendered perceptions we have of our work colleagues. Once we recognise our biases, we can effectively work together to bring about an end to gender pay discrepancies.”