A surprisingly high 12% of HR leaders at large UK companies don’t think men and women should always receive equal pay for comparable work, underlining how sexism continues to thrive in British corporate culture.
Released to coincide with International Women’s Day, the results of a survey by HRLocker of 260 senior HR professionals at companies with at least 250 workers suggest the UK still has a long way to go towards pay equality.
When asked why the two sexes should not be paid equally, the most popular reasons given by HR professionals were:
• Pay should be based on skill not gender – 46%
• Men tend to be more qualified for senior roles – 19%
• Women don’t tend to work in their particular industry – 6%
Interestingly, eight percent of respondents claim to have knowingly underpaid someone on the basis of gender, with female (10%) respondents more likely to knowingly do so than men (7%).
Meanwhile, more than a quarter (27%) of respondents’ organisations have had a pay complaint made against them, by an employee, in the last two years.
Also, while more than 80% of HR leaders said they had reported on pay disparity at least once a year in line with pay gap reporting regulations, just 35% stated that they had reviewed their pay rates by gender in the last 12 months.
Women bear brunt of Covid job losses
The survey coincides with new research by global job search engine Adzuna which shows jobs in the top 20 female occupations have plummeted 40% year-on-year as the pandemic disproportionately affects women. This includes a 38.1% decline in jobs for sales and retail assistants, the top occupation held by women in 2020, as well as substantial declines in opportunities for receptionists (-52.0%), nursery nurses and assistants (-42.9%), personal assistants and other secretaries (-49.3%) and hairdressers and barbers (-37.3%). Care workers and home carers was the only occupation to see a hiring rise (+45.9%).
By comparison, hiring activity within the top 20 occupations historically employing the most men has fallen just 11.8%.
Women account for 49.8% of the UK’s professional and technical workers, but make up just 36.3% of legislators, senior officials and managers, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report.
Adzuna Co-founder Andrew Hunter said Covid-19 had left many women with lower pay, fewer options, and often shouldering the burden of increased caring needs. There needed to be a stronger focus on better flexible working and improved childcare options. “But we also need a shift in mentality to encourage more women into high growth sectors like Logistics, Tech & Manufacturing,” he said.
UK lagging behind in tech diversity
Meanwhile, a global survey of more than 4,200 IT leaders has found gender diversity for top tech roles remains broadly unchanged over the past year. The 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey reveals the UK is lagging behind other countries for equality in tech. With 16% of its technology leaders being female, South America has 60% more female IT leaders than the UK.
Over half (54%) of female tech professionals in the UK, and 46% globally, say that the industry is not doing enough to promote female participation.
Harvey Nash Group Chief Executive Bev White said: “As our research shows, there are many facets to this and multiple factors that can help shift the dial: remote working, mentoring, Diversity & Inclusion training and awareness, apprenticeship and entry schemes, better outreach to schools and colleges, positive messaging. But there is no single magic bullet. Diversity must not be seen as a ‘project’. It has to be about a sustained cultural and mindset shift. Change needs to be systemic and coordinated, not a set of disparate initiatives. Government has a key role to play in this – it can help set the agenda at so many levels.”