Today, Thursday 14th November, marks Equal Pay Day – the point in the year from which, based on the average pay gap between the genders, women effectively stop earning until the following year.
This morning, two political parties made their election pledges to tackle the gender pay gap. Labour has pledged to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2030 through measures such as fines for organisations that fail to report on the subject. The Liberal Democrats also pledged this morning that they would oblige bigger companies to publish data on employment levels by gender, as well as for BAME and LGBT staff, and would push for a law to end the so-called pink tax, whereby companies charge higher prices for fundamentally identical products such as razors or deodorants simply because they are marketed at women.
Government legislation and policy is of course one of the key drivers behind the movement towards parity in gender pay. There are systemic issues that need to be addressed in the UK economy to solve the gender pay gap, but for companies and business leaders that want to put actions in place now, flexible working can be a great start.
Traditional family commitments can have a larger impact on women than men, so flexible working that accommodates a more conducive work/life balance for everyone and can help to distribute those responsibilities and negate the impact on people’s careers. In highly skilled sectors, such as law, accountancy and human resources, people can move out of employment and into self-employment to achieve a better work-life balance whilst earning more, and at ETZ, we are working with these people and recruitment firms to ensure that they have all the tools they need to succeed.
Furthermore, removed from the traditional corporate structure, freelancers are more often than not judged purely on the quality of work versus their gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion. They are judged based on the credentials on their profile, a visible portfolio, and reviews from past clients. This simple reduction in social judgment and primarily work-first perspective taken in the freelance arena means that women are far more likely to achieve equal pay working on a freelance basis, versus in a traditional corporate environment.
The attraction and advantages of freelancing are seemingly not lost on women; in the U.K. over the past 10 years, the number of highly skilled female freelancers has increased by 63%. As more and more women make the transition and begin to see the benefits of freelancing, we are likely to see a continued growth of the freelance sector, and women across the UK seeing the gap in pay they used to contend with massively reduced or removed altogether.
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