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6 ways that employers can tackle the Gender Pay Gap

Despite gradual reform, there remains a disparity in earnings between men and women

This grows when women return to work after having children, as fewer hours and missed experience combine to create a situation where their earning potential is lessened compared to their male counterparts.

Here are some of the ways that employers and recruiters can help to address these imbalances.

Re-evaluating Low-Paid Work

While some industries are pushed towards greater pay transparency, smaller businesses and jobs at the lower end of the pay scale do not face the same scrutiny.

Jobs traditionally performed by women – such as service and care work – are valued less than traditionally male-dominated roles like transport and construction, argue the Fawcett Society, and pay less as a result. Proposed solutions include encouraging employers to support greater career progression for women through targets as well as paying a living wage.

Getting Fathers to Take Leave

One way to address the disparity is to encourage fathers to take or share parental leave. Sharing parental leave would allow mothers to work more hours, earn more money and not have to miss crucial experience that could affect their career trajectories and future opportunities for promotion.

Precedents include Sweden, where split parental leave replaced maternity leave in 1974. It’s reflected today in its position near the top of the World Economic Forum’s global gender gap index.

Increasing Pay for Women

A major solution to the pay disparity is to increase wages for women. Examples include the University of Essex, where female professors received a one-off increase in June 2016, with the organisation attributing this to impatience with the pace of change, according to the BBC.

Making Childcare Affordable

The cost of part-time nursery-based childcare in 2016 was up to £6000 a year on average, according to the BBC – a figure that’s far too high for many families and parents to afford. The high cost of childcare and transport can disincentivise lower-earning mothers from working, with little government support for young children under three.

Affordable childcare, subsidised by employers or by the state, can help to keep women in work while offering work/life flexibility.

Giving Parents Opportunities to Work from Home

As outlined above, the cost of childcare is too high for many individuals and organisations to afford or subsidise. Instead, one solution may be to increase opportunities to work from home, allowing for flexible situations where parents can spend time with their child whilst still earning money and maintaining a presence in the workplace.

The Fawcett Society has called on employers to advertise jobs as part-time, flexible or shared wherever possible.

Bringing Children to the Workplace

Allowing and encouraging employees to bring their children to work has been a growing trend in North America and one that is spreading to UK-based businesses such as the taxi group Addison Lee, which has experimented with these initiatives. It offers parents the chance to earn money and maintain a workplace presence whilst still spending time with their children.

Other firms like Goldman Sachs have taken these initiatives further, offering employees an on-site crèche alongside a combination of paid leave and care options as well as a transnational programme for parents returning to work.

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