Equality Campaigners Set Out Action To Reduce Pay Gaps

15 August 2017, 06:24

British money

Universal flexible working and "use it or lose it" paternity leave should be introduced in a bid to reduce pay gaps, according to equality campaigners.

In a new policy document, the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland has called for firms to be consulted on reporting on not just gender pay gaps but also those relating to ethnicity and disability, and for annual statistics to be published.

Scotland Commissioner Lesley Sawers said women, ethnic minorities and disabled people should not have to accept "second-class pay".

The commission said women in Scotland are paid 15% less on average than men, while ethnic minorities are paid 5.7% less than white people, and disabled people face a pay gap of 13.6% compared to their peers.

Encouraging employers to tackle bias in recruitment, promotion and pay to increase diversity at all levels in every sector is one of several recommendations in the commission's new strategy paper.

Other recommendations include encouraging men and women to share childcare by introducing "use it or lose it" paternity leave, investing in sector-specific training and regional enterprise to improve work opportunities for all, and addressing the differences in subject and career choices to unlock the "earning potential" in education.

Ms Sawers said: "Subject choices and stereotypes in education can send children on set paths which often reflect the limited expectations of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people.

"These stereotypes are then reinforced in recruitment, pay and progression practices, leading to a 'that's just the way it is' attitude. It isn't - all it reflects is how we value people and people's work.

"For this to change, we need to overhaul our culture and make flexible working the norm; looking beyond women as the primary carers and having tough conversations about the bias that is rife in our society.

"Pay practices need to catch up with modern Scottish life - women, ethnic minorities and disabled people simply shouldn't have to accept second-class pay.

"What message does this send to young Scots - that no matter how hard you try, your gender, race, or disability defines your worth?"

Advice and mediation service Acas backed the call for increased flexible working.

Its head of diversity Julie Dennis said: "This research shines an important light on pay gaps between ethnicities and disabled people as well as proposals to reduce the gender pay gap.

"Acas has published guidance around gender pay reporting, which provides practical advice for large organisations on how to carry out the calculations and family-friendly working that can help to reduce the gap.

"Employers who want to make sure women with children don't miss out on the top jobs should make flexible working available for men and women."