Equal pay: still an issue in 2020?

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Equal pay may not be something many women working today will ever know, according to new analysis.

Research from the Fawcett Society also reveals that 43 per cent of working women, and 50 per cent of black and ethnic minority women are worried about their job and promotion prospects because of coronavirus.

This compares to 35 per cent of white working men. One-third of working women have also lost work or hours because of pandemic-related childcare issues.

The figures were released to mark Equal Pay Day, the day that women supposedly stop being paid because of the gender pay gap in the UK.

The Labour Party’s own estimates suggest that 8.5 million women will go their entire careers without receiving equal pay.

The findings will raise serious questions about how, in 2020, there are still problems of women being undervalued, underpaid and a seemingly insurmountable gender pay gap.

During the first lockdown, women carried out the bulk of childcare responsibilities, were more likely to be furloughed, and were more likely to be let go

Kirstie Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer at City & Guilds Group, said: “If we want to build an economic recovery that values the contributions of all people then there are clear steps we need to take.

“First, we need to start early and provide role models for young women as well as help them to believe they can have any career they want.  We should then use the unique opportunity the pandemic has given us to create a more flexible working environment that doesn’t penalise women who often shoulder the burden of caring responsibilities outside of work.

“And finally, we must start to really value and pay those jobs that we have utterly depended on during this year such as education, social services, and nursing. There is so much more for us to all do before we can celebrate that we are becoming a fairer and more equal society in respect to gender, despite some of the progress that’s being made.”

Aliya Vigor-Robertson, co-founder of HR consultancy JourneyHR, said: “While there has been a narrowing in the gender pay gap, we’ve already seen the detrimental impact the pandemic has had on women’s equality at work. During the first lockdown, women carried out the bulk of childcare responsibilities, were more likely to be furloughed, and were more likely to be let go.

“The impact of the second lockdown is likely to be the same unless more is done to support women. From offering more flexible working options to help working mothers, to promoting virtual networking and mentorship opportunities to keep careers progressing, to building fair and unbiased furlough and redundancy processes, there’s plenty of ways to help.”