So the UK had another Budget Day earlier this week and, in amongst the slash and burn policies (the Fawcett Society were profoundly unimpressed) and the sugar tax, was a fleeting reference to the gender pay gap – a comment which was not well received on social media.
That same evening, I appeared as part of a panel event to discuss said pay gap at London’s Soho House, a follow up to the event we ran last September at Shoreditch House. The panel was moderated by writer and producer Deborah Coughlin and with me on stage were Hannah Swerling from ELLE magazine and Reni Eddo-Lodge, a freelance journalist who will be publishing her first book, on politics and race, in 2017.
As before, Deborah ran us through the data, including sharing the fact that the gender pay gap starts with pocket money, and we then discussed:
- Who amongst us has been affected by the pay gap?
- What does the pocket money issue tell us about how women and girls are viewed?
- Millennials are doing better – but are they? Who is doing well and who isn’t?
- If the pay gap widens at 40, what are the issues? Maternity? Child care? Paternity? Added to which –
- The issue has actually got worse for women in their 50s. WHY?
- What effect will the government’s new transparency law have?
Hannah talked about the continuing work done by ELLE magazine to make feminism accessible and relevant to their readers and we showed their #morewomen film:
“There are too many instances in business, music, art and media, where women are represented by a single female.
Women rarely outnumber men.
Why aren’t there #morewomen making it?
There is room for more of us at the top.
One woman’s success makes EVERY WOMAN STRONGER!
More women for #MoreWomen”
As before, we had a very spirited debate with lots of questions from the audience, around such issues as: targets vs. quotas – what could make a difference? What’s the business case for having a more diverse work force? What proportion of women in leadership can make a difference in an organisation? (Answer: 30% will give you critical mass, improve your decision making capabilities AND improve the bottom line. PDF info here.) How to best use maternity, paternity or parental leave?
Also as before, I shared my tactical tips for practical steps which women can take to help them close their own pay gap, which are:
- Know your own worth: research the hell out of your market sector (whether freelance or employed), find out market values and hold your ground when in pay based negotiations.
- Remind yourself: that men are apparently FOUR TIMES more likely than women to ask for a pay rise or negotiate a higher starting salary or signing on bonus. Consider your actions and think about challenging that number. Ask.
- If the above two points feel really uncomfortable as ideas for you: consider working with a coach on negotiation skills, confidence building or whatever else might make you feel more inclined to haggle and get paid what you’re truly worth. Regard the cost of the coaching fees as a major investment in Team You – you should easily earn back the costs over time.
Here’s a photo of me and Reni in action; when I shared this image on social media with the caption “And the gender pay gap is THIS big!”, one of the comments was: “I thought you were just demonstrating the necessary anatomy to be paid fairly”. Make of that what we will.
Have a great weekend; the next post will be a news roundup, published on Monday.