It’s the 10th of November. We’ve got TFI Friday feels. The John Lewis advert has just been released. Oh joyful day. Except, it’s equal pay day, and it falls on exactly the same day as last year, signifying that pretty much zilch progress has been made to close the 14.1 per cent pay gap. We’ve been stuck here the past three years, with older women facing the greatest prejudice, but worryingly, while things were looking up/ almost equal for younger women six years ago, the gender pay gap has been on a slow but sinister rise since then, from 1.1 per cent to 5.5 per cent for women in their 20s this year. The gap is widest in London overall, but in some areas of the country, women have effectively been working for nada since September, while the gender pay gap faced by many black and ethnic minority women is up to a staggering 26 per cent.
The male-female pay gap is also endemic in all sectors, from finance to media (holler BBC) to health and social care, and given that the World Economic Forum has just this month published a report revealing that 57 per cent of the work that UK women do is unpaid, we’re not only being shortchanged from every angle, we’re systemically undervalued from a social, economic and political point of view. Add to this the fact that women do 74 per cent of childcare, are four times more likely to have to give up their job to care for family or dependents and are still to this day being fired for getting pregnant (illegal yes, but employers are still at it), and it’s clear that the actual pay gap issue itself is part of a wider culture of gender discrimination.
It’s exhausting and infuriating having to report on this year in, year out, and it seems that for real change to be made, pressure on businesses must intensify, with greater penalties issued to companies not complying with the Equal Pay Act (which is 50 YEARS OLD FYI), plus bosses put under real fire as to why discrepancies in pay exist in the first place. The Women’s Equality Party are today encouraging women to apply an ‘out of office’ message on their email accounts, with an explanation as to why women are effectively just that from a pay perspective for the rest of the year, while gender equality and women’s rights charity The Fawcett Society is promoting the #paygappledge, encouraging both men and women to start a conversation on the topic of equal pay at work, and push for real, tangible and fast change. The same campaigners remind us that at the snail’s pace rate we’re “progressing”, it’ll take over a century to achieve pay parity with men. Here’s hoping that I’m not writing this story on the same date next year at the very least.