So all the equal pay kind words and half-hearted legislation in the UK (and Europe) has delivered little in the way of change and progress in the last 40 years. It is not that men are being paid more; it is that women are being paid less – for identical jobs. Sometimes (and embarrassingly so) while standing or sitting next to each other day after day, just ask the BBC.
We should call it what it is – “penis pay”.
After 40 years there has been some progress, but not nearly enough. Also, depressingly the new titans of fluffy capitalism, companies such as Google are perpetuating the problem by deliberately enforcing the pay gap and then seeking to hide it from public and judicial scrutiny. If you are a woman and working for Google you are going to end up being paid a lot less, in some cases literally millions. It is not just pay that is unfair, that is just the start. It is the loss of, or reduced long-term benefits and incentives, such as shares, share options, bonuses and to cap it all, pensions.
So what is required is legally enforced equal pay and benefits.
On 1st January 2018, Iceland did just that.
Under Icelandic law businesses that employ 25 or more people must look at work done and obtain certification that men and women doing the same jobs are paid the same. No certification means the risk of fines. This law was passed by a centre-right coalition, with the aim of eliminating the pay gap completely by 2022.
The argument against legislation is the burden of complying, (along with actually paying the same). Critics point out that Iceland has a population of 323,000. This is a hollow argument as businesses have committed to the effort of deliberately paying less; deliberately paying the same is not exactly an administrative burden.
The pay gap in the UK in 2017 was estimated to be 16.9% – the pay gap is the average pay in an organisation for men and women – the difference/gap between the sexes. However, even though it does not provide proof of unequal pay, it does provide some indication of unequal opportunities and promotion.
Unenforced and frankly feeble legislation has achieved only small steps in 40 years. The UK government (and other European governments) need to finish the task…there are a lot of votes to be won by the governments and political parties that step up and do it.