Today is the day I start subsidising my male peers...

How so, you ask? How generous of me!

As I am likely to earn at least 17% less than them, for work of the same value or skill level.

For women in senior management (like me) that gap widens to 25%. And I understand it's worst in London.

This means I am earning less so that my male peers can earn more!

And before you ask that's 17% less per hour between men and women working full time. The per hour gap is far higher between men working full time and women working part time.

Yes, yesterday, the 30th October was the day of the year when women in the UK got their last pay slip of the day and today they started working for free, when compared to their male peers. It is the reality of the wage gap. Like it was last year.

The wonderful Fawcett Society are continuing to campaign on the pay gap, as they will until it is closed. You can sign the open letter to Peter Mandelson here. (They have a very handy factsheet which you can view here and is where the following stats have come from – scroll down to page 5.

It’s still stuck at 17% no change on last year. And it’s not getting better, not with time, not with better education, not with the fact that fewer women are marrying and having children in their 20’s.

Evidence shows that we are stuck when it comes to equal pay and going backwards when it comes to political representation and being appointed to company boards.

So what to do? Well, the most important thing we need to do is change our culture where women have shoulder the bulk of childcare and unpaid work in the home. This is not an easy thing to do and will changes in legislation and employment law to allow families to share parental leave between them. It will also require men to change their mindset; they need to be just as willing to work flexibly as their partners assume they will have to. But as with all cultural changes, that will only take place over time.

Still irrespective of issues around childcare, 40% of the discrimination that women suffer from is down to simple discrimination.

In the mean time Fawcett are arguing for two clear actions:

1. Mandatory pay audits which would require all companies and organisations to compare the earnings of women and men doing similar work to see if there is a gap.

2. Changes to the law to make it much easier for women to take cases to court, and to allow women to take such cases as a group, with the support of the unions.

As a Liberal I believe in the market and competition; but when the market is not working properly as a result of discrimination then I believe the market needs to be regulated. Greater transparency, in the form of pay audits will do that. And just like Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, employers discriminating against women won’t voluntarily conduct a pay audit. That’s why they have to be mandatory.


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