The gender pay gap has proved stubborn. It’s closing, but slowly. Other pay gaps are wider – race, disability, socio-economic background – but are not measured as closely. And then there’s the intersection between all of them that is understood, but not monitored at all.
Pay gaps paint a picture of the unfairness in our society.
The pay penalty is a proxy for prejudice. It calculates pay differences allowing for age, location, job type, so that you really are measuring like for like. And it shows that in the recruitment, pay and promotion, businesses penalise you for being non-white, for being a woman, for being disabled.
This is fixable. First, managers need to hire for difference and be held accountable if they don’t. Second, the top executives need to hover over the people making appointments to drive the change, one individual at a time. Third, there should be mandatory pay gap reporting, not just for gender but race and disability, too.
This still leaves the class ceiling. It’s proving much, much harder to break. There are not metrics in most businesses that show the spread of
socio-economic background, either across the company or in the senior management. This is work to be done. Until we measure opportunity and mobility in the workplace, we’ll be paying lip service to what is the biggest pay gap and the most stubborn power gap of all.
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