Name: Ed Stacey
Why not have equal pay for men and women?
One evening while I was at home with my family, my kids (I have 2 daughters and 1 son), asked me what I do for work. I told them that I work as an employment lawyer and one of the areas I focus on is pay equity and that I work with companies to help close the pay gap between men and women. As I continued explaining what the pay gap means, my oldest daughter who is 7 years old asked “Does this mean that when I grow up, I won’t get as much pocket money as my brother?” I didn’t know how to answer that question without bringing to light the realities that exist and answered “yes that’s a great example of what this means”. I will never forget the look of shock and disappointment on her face.
This is why helping organisations identify gender pay gap and addressing ways to close it is so important to me and not just because I have two daughters, but because closing the gap is the right thing to do. With the pay gap legislation that was recently passed in the UK, we are seeing more organisations proactively working toward closing the gap and we are helping more clients achieve this within their company.
It’s nice to see that we haven’t experienced a lot of pushback on the concept of what the new legislation is trying to accomplish and within the UK alone, as companies begin to address this issue we have just seen the biggest year on year drop in the gender pay gap. Does this mean that a gender pay gap will become non-existent? Absolutely not and there a number of reasons why eliminating the pay gap is not something that can happen overnight.
One cause of the gender pay gap in the UK is that when women go on maternity leave, some choose not come back into the workforce or if they do, they may wait and come back after a couple of years. In the meantime, their positions need to be backfilled and the majority of replacements for female employees are men who will tend to ask for more money than the woman who was in the same position was earning. Women also tend to be more loyal employees than men which is one of the reasons it becomes harder to attract female talent and with women being less aggressive in pay negotiations than men, the pay gap doesn’t close as quickly as it could.
We are moving in the right direction and with countries starting to share their pay gap reports and having full transparency on this issue, it highlights the importance and urgency around this issue. I look forward to continue helping our clients close the gap within their organisations and hope that the conversation around closing the pay gap goes from ‘Why close the gap’ to ‘Why not close the gap.’