In early April 2018 UK based companies with 250 employees or more were required to submit their Gender Pay gap reports. This new governmental regulation aims to reduce inequality in the workplace and improve overall attitudes to transparency surrounding salaries and pay.
In early April 2018 UK based companies with 250 employees or more were required to submit their Gender Pay gap reports. Over 10,000 businesses have now submitted their information, many of which were submitted in the last week before the deadline. The reports reveal how many companies have a gender pay gap and to what degree. This new governmental regulation aims to reduce inequality in the workplace and improve overall attitudes to transparency surrounding salaries and pay.
One of the most reported figures was the ‘median pay gap’ in companies. The median pay gap compares salaries of the middle earning woman and man. This represents arguably one of the fairest ways to look at pay gaps, because it is not an average - simply a comparison. However, all the data has flaws and some companies have debated whether hourly pay would be a fairer way to examine salaries.
Gender Pay Gap Revealed
From all the data submitted, the two sectors with the highest pay gap are construction and finance. With just 44 of 743 firms in these two sectors reported to have paid women more than they paid men. What this shows us is that there are substantially more men clustered at the top rungs of these companies receiving higher pay. Women seem to occupy a large amount of the lower percentiles of earning in construction companies, whilst men take the higher earning positions. It is this trend that we need to question and change.
Construction is one of the worst ranking sectors, with women paid on average 38% less than men. It is important to note here that this is not women being paid less than men for the same work. The equal pay act was passed in 1970, but this data shows that there is still a clear divide. The country-wide average figure for the gap is 19%, meaning that construction is nearly double the UK-wide average.
So how will reporting these, frankly dire, figures make steps to improve the situation? The aim of the initiative is to encourage change by shedding light on these statistics. For many companies this may make executives and employers take a step back and look at how balanced their workplace is, particularly in roles with higher salaries. They may want to examine their workplace culture and how they could encourage women to work towards roles higher up in their companies.
A Catalyst For Change
The pay gap is not simply about employing more women in the workplace. The pay gap reporting should be the catalyst for change in businesses across the UK. Changing attitudes is one step towards solving the issues surrounding gender equality. Gender role expectations have come a long way since the Nuclear Family of the 1950’s. But, we must also examine our expectations and understandings of gender in the workplace. Women’s role in society has changed drastically over the last few decades and workplaces must change to reflect this.
Looking back on the history of the construction industry, it has long been a field dominated by men. However, we are in a time of change and bringing more women into the construction sector leads to new ideas and new approaches in a time when the sector desperately needs to embrace a new way of thinking.
How Can the Construction Industry Be More Inclusive?
- Expectations are arguably what needs to change the most in the environment of construction. We have lived for decades in a society that expected employees to be at their workplace from 9-5 daily (or longer) and this is only something that is recently starting to change with a more decentralised and diverse workforce.
- Flexible working is a great way to work with more female employees who do undertake childcare or other caretaking duties. This also allows fathers to split childcare with their partners; so it benefits everyone involved in a company with children. Working remotely is a great solution to employees who cannot be at their desk or on site all the hours that the job demands but, can easily work from home or elsewhere.
- Embracing new technology can not only help you to better accommodate staff and improve diversity, but also to improve collaborative work practises and increase efficiency.
Combatting the gender pay gap in the construction industry will involve many small steps to eventually achieve a bigger change. Altering workplace expectations is one of the major ways to make a positive change in your work environment. But much beyond this, it is about a broader understanding and questioning of the issues surrounding the gender pay gap. Why haven’t women been included and embraced to work in the construction sector? And what are the ways that this field should change to accommodate them?
Technology can offer some great solutions and this is another way to move your business forward against competitors, whilst embracing new ways of working. Create a workplace with a forward thinking approach and your employees will also adopt this - becoming forerunners of their field.
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