Closing the Pay Gap
Roles for stakeholders
Economic development agencies have a key role in influencing employers to consider the benefits to gender equality and equal pay in the workplace. Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise are key partners of the Close the Gap initative. The Government's Economic Strategy states that:
'Higher sustainable economic growth is the key which can unlock Scotland's full potential and create benefits for all our people. Our future prosperity as a nation depends on everyone playing their part - as workers, consumers, volunteers and business people. We, as government, have a role too in the way we invest in Scotland's people and places and in tackling unnecessary obstacles to growth.'
Part of this strategy is to ensure that organisations work together to mitigate the barriers which prevent sustained economic growth, such as gender inequality, including occupational segregation.
There are a number of benefits for employers who take action to close the gender pay gap, including reductions to associated human resource costs with recruting and retaining staff, ensuring skills are utilised effectively and reducing the risk by complying to equal pay law and discrimination law. Employers can undertake an equal pay review (audit) in the first instance, which is the best way to ensure that pay systems are fair and transparent. Employers can also consider reviewing flexible (family friendly) work practices to help retain and attract women to their organisation. For more information visit our Employer section and Resource section. Alternatively you can contact us for free confidential support.
Unions have been at the forefront of campaigning for equal pay for their members and it is important that this issue is reflected in workplace representatives bargaining strategies. This includes tackling the three main causes of the pay gap; occupational segregation, lack of flexible working for members with caring responsibilities (the majority of whom are women) and discrimination within pay and grading systems, where many women are being paid less for work that is the same or similar, or of the same value. The most effective way for employers to uncover discrimination is to carry out and equal pay review (audit).
For unions organising in the public sector, the Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies to take a proactive and organised approach to tackling systemic discrimination and aims to mainstream equality into public bodies in practical ways. This includes reporting on a headline pay gap and on occupational segregation. Public bodies are required to involve people who share a protected characteristic, and those who represent them, such as trade unions. Therefore, unions have a role here to support listed public authority employers to meet the requirements of the general duty and the specific duties. Further information for unions can be found in the Union rep section.
The headline gender pay gap is an indicator of systemic gender inequality in the labour market and society more generally. In order to ensure policy development supports action on tackling the causes of the gender pay gap then, then it should take into account how women and men participate in the labour market, including pre-labour market areas such as equation and skills acquisition. and how this impacts on their labour market experience. Otherwise, if the characteristics of an organisations service users or employees are unknown then they cannot be considered when setting policy.
Policy makers can influence action on the pay gap by supporting the gathering and dissemination of gender disaggregated information. Gender disaggregated statistics are necessary for policy makers, employers and organisations to challenge gender inequality. The cross-cutting and complex issues relating to the nature of women and men's access to education, training and participation in the labour market can only be understood if the information provided is disaggregated according to gender, otherwise new policies and practices will continue to perpetuate gender inequality and the pay gap.
The Scottish Government has published on their website an Equality Evidence Finder where those working in policy and research can find relevant data sources for each of the equality areas including gender. Visit our Resource section for our latest research, guidance and links to other organisations.