Everybody will have read a lot about the gender pay gap and the recent news from the BBC. There’s been a vast amount of comment, some fair, some driven by agenda and lots of misunderstanding. What cannot be argued is that the BBC affair has identified a huge issue and one that needs addressing.
One mistake is to think that this is limited to the BBC. The coverage that hit the press will have been noted uncomfortably by a significant number of chief executives across the country as by April 2018, 9000 of the UK’s biggest employers – which accounts for almost 15 million workers – will have to file pay gap data and that data will be available in the public domain. That’s almost half the UK workforce. It’s going to be incredibly interesting to see how different industries compare when this data is analysed.
Propel has been producing salary surveys for the digital sector for the last eight years and across that time we’ve always highlighted a gender pay gap. We can look at the encouraging trend that the gap is getting smaller across the board but sadly we can still see some quite defined discrepancies in the seventh edition which tracks the last 12 months.
Let’s look at the good news first: focusing on the C-level bracket, salaries are almost at parity. The average female figure is £98,862 a year against the male figure of £99,703.
The trouble is that the two brackets below that are not so positive. Senior level salaries show a gap of 10.6% in favour of male salaries (£64,227 against £71,282). Depressingly, the gap is even bigger at mid-level where we see a much larger disparity of 17.6% (£37,932 against £44,670). When you understand that the average pay gap across all industries is 18% you can see that the digital industry has nothing to be proud of yet.
The digital industry has been hugely vocal about diversity and getting women into the boardroom and into senior positions. Every trade magazine and event has featured this and as such, I’m sensing that some think that the issue is sorted and we can move on to the next big topic happy that we work in a progressive, fair and equitable industry. As we can see from these figures that’s sadly not the case.
I suspect that when our figures for the digital industry are released next year we will still see a gap. We’ll still hear a range of well-meaning chief executives tell us that they are working on the issue, that they have a number of initiatives in place but that it takes time for changes to have an effect. However, let’s remember that the Equal Pay Act has been in place for over 40 years. This isn’t new.
There are no easy fixes for this, but a couple of points to consider. Firstly, transparency has to be key and only full transparency and continuing commitment to addressing it will bring this issue into the open and lead to change. Let’s really push our industry leaders hard on this topic.
Secondly, work hard with your heads of talent, HR departments and recruiting teams to make sure your recruitment process becomes as gender neutral and as inclusive as possible. It will help because that’s so often where the gap begins.
And finally, let’s stop talking about this and do something about it. We’ve had 40 years to get it right.
Melina Jacovou is chief executive and co-founder of digital recruitment business Propel