Unless you’ve been living on Mars this week, you’ll have noticed that the UK is a flood with discussion on how to achieve equal pay for women, for people of colour, for everyone.
As recruitment consultants, we are privy to salary negotiations for a wide range of companies for over 20 years, we also keep an ear to the ground on industry insights beyond our own company. So, what practical advice can we give to companies to help combat a real issue of discrimination with, as the BBC is finding out, real legal consequences.
Among other things, the Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace by making pay secrecy clauses unenforceable and allowing claims for direct pay discrimination where there is no actual comparator.
However, despite this Act, it was evident from independent studies that pay discrimination was still rife with women being estimated to be paid 20% less than their male colleagues in equal positions.
In summer 2015, David Cameron pledged to ‘end the gender pay gap within a generation’ and give ‘nowhere for gender inequality to hide’. It was this drive that led the BBC to be the forerunner for disclosing its highest earners’ salaries, initially for those earning over £400K and updated under Theresa May to include earners over £150K (the PMs own salary).
With the BBC’s employees being paid from the taxpayers pocket, the outrage at how their license fee is being spent unfairly among its workers is understandable. But the BBC case study shouldn’t be treated in isolation. There is a long history of salary negotiations being shrouded in secrecy. Success shouldn’t be dependent on your negotiation strategy or ability to out-chicken your manager. Your compensation should be based on the skills and expertise you give to a company.
Clearly, more transparency is needed and more advice available to accurately market candidates when seeking a new opportunity or internal promotion- but more than this, the responsibility to ensure a fairly paid workforce ultimately lies with the company hiring. Yes, you are a business and are not going to pay over the odds out of the kindness of your heart- but sanity checking your decision process to ensure there is no implicit bias leading you to be more open to paying a white male significantly more than a female POC is something that we must help to recalibrate. And that’s before we get into rights over flexible working and parenthood.
If you are a candidate looking to competitively place yourself in the market- talk through your price bracket with your recruiter. There’s a lot of secrecy and anxiousness over disclosing this, which is understandable when you want to be in the best position for negotiations but trust us. We know the market and can give honest advice about how to competitively compensate your skills- what’s more is it's just advice. At the end of the day, we represent you and your wishes. You can read more about why you should disclose your salary to your recruiter in our senior IT consultant, Alex Pitts’ article here.
If you’re a company looking to close the pay gap, then transparency is key. Be proactive at compensating your employees competitively in the market to foster trust and loyalty, rather than starting out on the back foot trying to hold on to discontented key employees. Outline routes to progression and what this means in terms of salary brackets for everyone.
We’re not sure if the gender pay gap with end ‘within a generation’. As Jane Garvey tweeted, the issue is far from new. But we champion all companies and candidates to foster transparency and break the secrecy over pay.
For tips about your hiring strategy or pricing yourself in the market, pick up the phone! We can consult on all levels of the hiring journey.
Applause IT are proud members of APSCo and have pledged our commitment to encourage applications from diverse backgrounds.