This year’s Gender Pay Gap reports are now largely in the public domain. Financial Services and Investment Management is showing a very wide gap, if not wider than before. Much of the impact of this is being lost in the chaos of Brexit right now. Let’s hope 2020 see us in better shape, but first let’s look at what is driving the debate.
There are a lot of column inches and clever graphics dedicated to the Gender Pay Gap in the media and the comment section on the myriad articles is lively to say the least. The majority of men seem to say equal pay is law and the Gender Pay Gap reporting is misleading. According to the male contingent, it’s complicated, messy, requires counter intuitive thinking and reasoning, does not on the surface appear logical, so it’s not fit for purpose.
Gender Pay Gap reporting has been designed to eke out gender imbalance in the workplace by highlighting the way women take on roles which pay less. This is quite worrying, especially since women reach the same level of education.
Equal Pay in law is still not working. There are also many instances of ‘equal pay’ not being honoured – you have only to look at the recent BBC scandal to see it writ large.
And this is what we’re up against as women in the workforce – legislation is now in place but it’s not being accepted or acted upon.
Interestingly, I think this paragraph from Grazia, a fashion and lifestyle magazine, sums it all up rather well from the female perspective.
17 Reasons Why The Gender Pay Gap Exists - Unsurprisingly, knowing about it isn't fixing it... by Nell Frizzell
The Gender Pay Gap, like a fatberg, is made up of many different unsavoury factors. The wet wipes, congealed oil and earbuds that come together to block the career progression and financial security of women in work are manifold; misogyny, the price of child care, recruitment, homosocial work culture, graduate schemes, maternity leave, the awarding of bonuses, the character of low paid work, social conditioning, squeamishness and bad old fashioned bias.
What does the future hold for the new generation?
If there is no flexibility or new room made to accommodate gender and diversity, where are we headed? Here are some of my thoughts on what’s to come
Change is going to happen: The ‘glass ceiling’ is still very much in existence but the workplace is destined to change. The Women in Finance Charter is creating progress. New regulation and law will ensure progress (unless it is revoked, which in the UK is extremely unlikely). One hindrance maybe the withdrawal of the UK from the EU which sets us apart from the rulebook we currently abide by. Whatever happens, change is the norm but it’s not going to be quick.
Jobs for the girls: While we are seeing more working women and mothers, I think we will continue to see a reduction in women who want primarily to be home makers and steer away from careers. Changes to the education agenda and generations of women who have had successful careers will normalise careers and family. 2018 ONS figures show a marked change in data which support this.
- The employment rate for mothers was 74.0% in April to June 2018, which has increased from 68.9% in 2013 and from 61.9% in 1996 (when comparable records began).
- Since 2010, the employment rate for women with children has remained higher than for women without dependent children, whilst the employment rate for fathers has consistently been higher than for men without dependent children.
- 5 in 10 (50.5%) mothers work 30 or more hours in their usual working week (excluding overtime) compared with almost 7 in 10 (69.7%)women without dependent children.
- In April to June 2018, almost three-quarters (72.5%) of families with couple parents had both parents in employment; of these families, almost half (45.5%) had both parents in full-time employment.
Women will champion themselves: There are networking groups and awards specifically set up for women in the City. However, at various milestones, women have extremely different needs in the workplace. Gender specific issues such as breastfeeding, menopause and other previously taboo subjects are on the agenda for the workplace now and the conversation needs to continue so there is a supportive environment. This will probably embody itself in female only forums and discrete problem solving groups rather than large campaigns.
Disruption is on its way: Like it or not, with a growing workforce of highly educated women the status quo will be challenged, and it will be down to two developments. First, new technologies such as AI which are set to replace menial roles – which women are filling more than men - will lead to retraining and up-skilling. These will likely be new roles which are client facing or project managing technology.
Second, as companies such as Tesco, Oracle and Google are facing class action from women due to pay and discrimination, it is highly likely to follow in the Investment Management industry, possibly on a global rather than local level. This will no doubt go back decades rather than years and will not be pleasant either.
Fragmentation in the market: As women become more of a power in the workforce, it’s quite likely they will want to work on their own terms. This will more likely mean they will not want to work in prevalently male environments which do not accommodate them, their growing families and pressures on work life balance. Technology has changed the need to be present in the office and virtual teams are acceptable. Network marketing and franchises are quite popular for women with families who work outside the industry – this proven model would be interesting to apply to Investment Management, so expect to see micro businesses which will be small teams and even the resurgence of the family firm.
While the 2019 Gender Pay Gap is not showing much progress today, it is early days. Equal pay and bonuses will continue to dominate the Investment Management career agenda and the broader world of work. I think we will see activist shareholders push for fair and equal conditions for all, including all other groups in the diversity spectrum as well, but that’s another story.