With companies comprising over 250 employees now obliged to publish gender pay reports, headlines regarding the gender pay gap look set to continue.
Yet the debate surrounding the pay disparity between men and women often misses the point. While calls for pay rises may be justifiable in some cases, more often than not, a large pay gap exists simply because male workers dominate the highest ranking positions in an organisation. Take law for example. While women now outweigh men at trainee level, the numbers of woman at partnership level dwindle to around just 24%.
To solve the pay gap we need to look at the reasons why women are failing to reach the top of the ladder in their chosen profession be it law, PR or whatever.
While there are many subtle reasons for the pay gap, one obvious explanation is the struggle many women face when attempting to combine a career with childcare obligations. Many will drop out of the workforce because of a real or perceived lack of flexibility in terms of working arrangements.
To close the pay gap, men as well as woman must be given the same opportunities to share and enjoy family commitments. But when it comes to flexible working requests women tend to fare far better because employers are under a certain amount of pressure to accommodate requests made during maternity leave for political reasons and to avoid discrimination claims. Meanwhile, male employees remain chained to their desks even though studies show that workplaces that embrace flexible working are more successful than those that don’t. Some echelons of the City provide a good example of this - a rigid face time culture exists only because of inertia and a fear of challenging the status quo.
And here lies the problem. Employers and policy makers need to realise that parents need to be on an equal footing when it comes to pursuing a career and being involved in their children’s upbringing. Only when men and women are offered the same opportunities to work flexibly will the pay gap dissipate.
To be better dads, men need parental leave and flexible working. And a culture change Libby Lyons Many men say they would like to be more involved in their child’s life. But even when generous leave options are available, fewer men take them Fri 1 Sep 2017 20.00 BST ‘When primary carers’ leave is available to men during the first year of a child’s life, it creates the opportunity for men to take up the full-time caring role when their partner is ready to return to work.’