How the UK really feels about the Gender Pay Gap

It’s safe to say that there are many different opinions out there when it comes to equality, gender pay and the gender pay gap reports that have been published to meet the 4th of April deadline.

Many heated discussions have been had around the country on whether or not the pay gap is even real, if the government should get involved and whether it’s an issue of inequality or a logical consequence of the differences in behaviour between the genders.

Manchester HR consultancy firm PeoplePointHR has for that reason conducted an online survey to see how males and females in different age groups reacted to the gender pay gap, and if they thought it to be a problem that needs to be taken care of through government interference.

What the results show

From the comments on news articles and twitter posts to conversations heard around the country, one thing is certain; most people have a strong opinion on the matter of the gender pay gap.

Do we believe that it’s all a hoax or do we feel that the gender-pay-gap is proof that women are disadvantaged due to their gender alone?

As research shows, only 46 percent of all respondents believe the gender-pay-gap to be proof of inequality.

More interesting however is the split between the opinions of men and women, with on average 21 percent of males agreeing with the gap to be proof of inequality compared to over 57 percent of females.

Why men think women are paid less

63 percent of males believe that the gap is a fair result of women choosing lower level positions, part time work and motherhood over career advancement, and 40 percent of the male respondents agreed that women generally wish to work less hard than men and often choose lower paid professions resulting in the gender pay gap we are seeing today.

How do business owners feel?

There is also a notable difference between the opinions of business owners and directors and non-owners when we ask about the requirement for government action towards closing the gap.

71 percent of non-owners believe this is necessary, compared to just 41 percent of company owners and directors.

The right to request equal pay

Nevertheless, most respondents – no matter their employment status – believe that employees should have the right to start a grievance procedure at work in regards to their pay being “unequal”.

Only 14 percent of all respondents disagreed with this statement due to grievance procedures being disruptive to the business.

Do people believe women and men are not equal?

4.4 percent of respondents stated that women and men are NOT equally capable to fulfil high level managerial positions, and 5.9 percent of respondents also stated that women and men are NOT equally capable of making good, high impact business decisions.

There are many arguments to say that the gender pay gap is not a reflection of inequality, but simply a result of logical differences between men and women. Examples of some common arguments are:

 “Men’s jobs are often more dangerous and physically gruelling”

“Women often take on extra responsibilities at home make different work-life decisions leading to lower pay.”

“Those that wish to earn more will work harder or go back to school”

Some state that there simply couldn’t be unequal pay or a gender pay gap because the law doesn’t allow it.

“Gender pay gap is a hoax because it is illegal to pay women less than men”

Unfortunately the law doesn’t stop individuals and businesses from the behaviour legislation prohibits, especially when it can easily be bypassed due to difficulty identifying illegitimate practices regarding inequality and therefore not be actively enforced.

Are men unfairly favoured?

Statements to support the theory that there is a strong inequality in the UK workforce favouring men in particular:

“The gender pay gap reports from large organisations across the UK show that in nearly all cases men are payed higher than their female counterparts”

“50 percent of parents are men, yes women more often choose to stay at home longer but maternity leave does not account for the high differences in pay between genders”

“The pay gap increases significantly in more senior and highly qualified positions, making the argument of women not looking for career progression obsolete”

No matter the arguments, most do agree that regardless of gender, a person should be paid what they are worth.

Personally I am absolutely certain that there have been many cases where women have been unfairly paid less or treated otherwise unequal to male counterparts.

However, how this truly equals out over our entire society, and how much impact it really has I can’t say.  No matter a person’s gender, they deserve to be paid their worth.

Quote from the director

I am well into my career as HR Director and I can honestly say that I personally have never experienced the gender gap issues that we are hearing so much about at the moment.

However, this might be because I have chosen to spend my time working with businesses who want to treat people fairly and have asked for our help in doing so.

Wendy Choyce, FCIPD Director of Human Resources, PeoplePointHR