Speak On It

Tackling the gender pay gap

What we earn is crucial. Put aside our passions, career aspirations and dreams, nine times out of ten it all boils down to how much your employment is worth.

The gender pay gap has always been a talking point, worldwide. We only have to look at the Forbes listings to ogle at some of the world’s highest earners (of which a large percentage is men) and see what they bring back to the table annually. Some figures are eye watering. The same goes for any worker, famous or not, the subject of what we earn compared to colleagues can be a raw topic.

Not all is doom and gloom though. In the UK, the gender pay gap has decreased a significant amount in the last forty years, thanks to a law being passed in the 70s where legal actions could be taken if a woman in an equal role to a man was on a lower salary. It isn’t completely abolished though and there is still a long way to go if we as a society want total equality.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has recently pledged that his government will tackle this issue, forcing all businesses across the nation to publish their pay scales. A risky vow that could go one-way or the other. How much do we appreciate the confidentiality of what we earn? Will this published information cause outrage in the workplace and will it actually encourage companies to even out their pay scales across the board? In Norway, the annual income of every tax payer is published and has been for years. The country’s gender pay gap is 50% lower than the UKs. So in theory, it could work.

Whilst the development in published salaries is still pending, scrolling through Forbes listings already gives insight into celebrity profiles and the differences in earning. Take the world’s highest paid athletes (see here). In a list of 100, only two are women (tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams) and they aren’t even near the top. Is this a clear sign of poor pay equality in the sports industry or a message that women’s sport doesn’t generate as much revenue as men’s?

The same goes for the film industry. Actress Amanda Seyfried recently revealed she was paid 10% of a male co-stars salary in a recent movie and had called for action on gender equality in Hollywood. She states that ‘it’s not about how much you get, it’s how fair it is”. A very direct message that goes back to how vital it is that the gender pay gap is something that should be eradicated.

Hopefully one day it will become history, along with all other gender segregations that we have worked so hard to eliminate over the centuries.

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Govinder Rayt

Govinder Rayt

Writer and expert