gender pay gap - introduction
The Gender Pay Gap is the difference between the hourly earnings of male and female employees in the UK, and must be published annually. The Equality & Human Rights Commission, responsible for the enforcing of reporting, brought in legislation from 31st March 2017, stating that all employers with 250 employees or more must report both to the government and on their own website.
We were one of the first students’ unions in the UK to report our figures to the government, and while we’re proud that our figures represent that we’re an organisation dedicated to equal opportunities, we know there is more work to do on the representation of women in our workforce.
In this section of the website you’ll be able to find out what our figures are, what that means, and what we’ll do going forward as a union, and as an employer.
It’s really important to use situations like this to learn and progress – several sources suggest that gender pay gaps are especially rife for university graduates, so it’s important to us to tackle these issues head on.
pay gaps, not equal pay
What’s really important with the Gender Pay Gap reporting is that this is not an issue of Equal Pay, and while the two are conflated in the media, they stand for very different issues.
Equal Pay is protected in law, and has been provided for since 1970 when the Equal Pay Act came into force. This was later superceded by the Equality Act 2010, which took in a lot of previous equality legislation. Equal Pay claims can be brought where employee A, who is one gender, is paid paid less than employee B, who is a different gender, for doing like-for-like work of equal value. It is worth noting that UK legislation only recognises male/men and female/women, and doesn’t yet support the notion of gender outside the binary.
As an example, if we paid a male member of Venues Staff £9.45 an hour and a female member of Venues Staff £8.45 an hour, a claim of Equal Pay could be brought against us as an employer by the female member of staff.
The Gender Pay Gap looks instead at the difference in average pay between men and women. This is done by analysing the mean and median differences, as well as splitting everyone’s pay into quartiles and looking at the differences across this. This should indicate where women are earning more than, or less than, their male counterparts across an organisation.
our figures: 2017 - 2018
hourly rates for women
Women’s hourly rates are:
1.7% lower (mean) 0.6% lower (median)
These figures indicate that, on average, men get paid £1.75 more per £100 earned than women – but we need to remember that this is because we’re looking at the organisation on the whole. Rather than this manifesting in the payslips of male employees, instead it indicates that we have slightly more men in roles paying higher salaries than women.
In comparison to other students’ unions, we’re doing pretty well – Warwick SU reported that women earn 5.9% lower (mean), and at Kent SU women earn 6.3% lower (mean).
This section of the reporting looks at where women sit in payroll – the percentages indicate how many men and women are in particular brackets.
Top quartile: 54% men, 46% women Upper middle quartile: 50% men, 50% women
Lower middle quartile: 45% men, 55% women Lower quartile: 49% men, 51% women
Looking at these figures, we can see that the middle quartiles are where we employ the most women. Where we should be concerned are in the top and lower quartiles. In the top quartile, we employ fewer women than men. This means that there are more men employed with higher salaries than women. Similarly, although there is only 1% more women than men in the lower quartile, this indicates we pay more women at a lower rate than men.
Women’s bonus pay is:
0% lower (mean and median) than men
This section of reporting is the most equal of our reporting, as we do not operate performance-related pay, so bonuses are not offered to any members of staff.
what does all of this mean?
Looking at our figures across the board, the numbers are generally okay. There’s no indication of any particularly worrying sectors in our payroll, which is a positive thing to acknowledge.
However, we’re aware that we do have a slight gap, and this isn’t acceptable. While our numbers are relatively equal or tending in favour of women, particularly at the top quartile we need to address our practices.
The lower quartile presents an interesting demographic issue – our aim is that our student staff body, typically those making up the lower quartile, matches the demographics of campus. In 2017/18, UEA Facts and Figures reported that across all modes of study, the student body was 40% male and 60% female. In this sense, it’s positive that the lower quartile is made up of more women than men.
Where more of our efforts should be focused is higher up payroll in the upper quartile. This is where we have fewest women across all quartiles, and so indicates that we have fewer women in positions of power across the organisation, as these are the positions that make up the upper quartile.
At this point, it’s worth bearing in mind that these figures do only present a snapshot of the organisation. Our workforce is unique in the region as we change year on year as students begin and leave, and our career staff workforce is relatively changeable too. Within students’ unions it’s common that progression in careers comes from moving around, and so there’ an expected amount of churn which, along with our changing student staff body, affects staffing demographics and ultimately our pay gap.
let's talk action
Knowing where our Gender Pay Gap lies means we can start to make changes to reduce it – but it’s important to know that the future isn’t now. This data reflects the year where the legislation was brought in and so organisations have mostly focused on getting the reporting right. Now organisations know their figures, changes can start to be implemented, but it won’t be immediate in an organisation with as small a gap as ours.
However, we can start to plan our approach to changing our gap, and put some actions in place. After looking at the figures, we’ll explore the following:
working with the university
We’re not the only employer on campus – UEA is a huge employer, and we work in such close proximity. Going forward, we could look to work with UEA and their HR team to implement programmes and schemes aimed at getting women into higher paid roles across campus and beyond, equipping graduates with the best start possible in the working world.
championing female progression and mentoring
Within our career staff team, we’ve been sending female-defining employees to the NUS Women in Leadership conference programme, and had an informal culture of mentoring. In the future, we could look into widening our participation in the NUS conference and attending other programmes, and creating a formal mentor programme for women working at the SU
tweaking recruitment processes
We recruit a lot of people every year, and our processes get great people into our roles – but this doesn’t mean they’re perfect. We’ll review our recruitment processes end-to-end to see where the weaknesses and cracks are, develop creative fixes with input from current staff and try new approaches to attracting and hiring our staff, both career and student. This doesn’t mean introducing positive discrimination and giving a role to someone just because they’re female, but making sure our roles are attractive to all candidates.
looking at policies and procedures
We review our staff policies (available to current staff in the Documents section of your PeopleHR account) regularly, and part of this reviewing process should come in the form of recommending and writing new policies to make sure we’re covering all relevant bases, and changing the wording and processes in others to make sure we’re not accidentally discriminating. Looking afresh at our parental and childcare related policies will be a good start, but introducing procedures and policies around domestic & relationship abuse and the menopause are steps other organisations have taken which may help decrease our pay gap.
what does the future hold?
We’ll be publishing this data annually, so hopefully we’ll be able to track our pay gap reducing and closing in the coming years thanks to proactive steps we can take after reflection each year. Our Equality, Diversity and Access Committee will become instrumental in the analysis of our figures and making recommendations for the future.
Many organisations are anticipating that in the near future, legislation will be introduced to produce Race Pay Gap reports alongside Gender Pay Gap reports. At uea(su), we’d welcome this move from the government and will be bearing this reporting in mind as time goes on. The Gender Pay Gap is merely the start of revealing nationwide discriminatory pay inconsistencies and we want to make sure we’re at the forefront of eradicating these issues on campus.
The work of our elected officers will be instrumental to our gender pay gap, shaping the direction of the organisation. We campaign year after year across all liberation groups, introducing our LGBT+ Officer (Trans and Non-Binary) role in the year 2016-17. Going forwards as an organisation, we’ll work with our officers to shape our workforce as well as our campaigns.