If you’re a woman reading this, as of today, you’re likely not being paid for the work you do.
According to April 2020 figures, women are paid 87p for every £1 that men earn. This represents a wider pay gap than in 2018 or 2019. It’s why days like Equal Pay Day, which is being held on the 18th November this year, have become more and more prominent over the years. On this day, many women around the world will be taking to the streets in protest of the gender pay gap as it is on this date that women, on average, stop earning relative to men.
We know that the financial marginalisation of women is present at almost every level in society, from the gender pay gap and wealth disparity to unpaid domestic work and the exploitation of women within the garment industry as well as underrepresentation in top positions within the financial sector itself. We also know that this marginalisation is abetted or willfully ignored by many institutions whose job it should be to uphold equal rights between men and women. It was only 51 years ago that a law, The Equal Pay Act, was passed in the UK to make it illegal to treat women less favourably than men in terms of pay and conditions of employment and until the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975, it was still legal for banks in the UK to refuse women mortgages without a male guarantor.
“Muslim women face some of the highest pay gaps and barriers to employment of any group in Britain today. Any attempt to understand the experience of Muslims in the economy must reflect the particular experiences of Muslim women.” – Fawcett Society
The historical implications of financially disenfranchising women are still being felt to this day and contribute to a wider wealth gap. New research from YouGov reveals that 50% of women have never owned any investments, with a lack of knowledge and confidence holding them back. Just one in five women (21%) currently hold an investment, compared to over a third (35%) of men and even within these statistics, there is an investment gap too, with women being more likely to save than invest, despite data showing that women get better returns on their investments than men.
The picture is even bleaker when you take into account factors such as ethnicity and religion. For Muslim women, the gender pay gap is particularly stark standing at 22.4% compared to Christian men, the highest of any religious group. Muslim women are more likely to be in part-time employment and to be at the receiving end of workplace discrimination; data shows that up to 25% of the difference in unemployment experienced by all ethnic minorities could be down to discrimination and for Muslim women in the workplace, this could be even higher.
While these gaps are institutionalised and need to be addressed with structural and collective solutions, understanding the steps that you can take on a personal level to ensure that you are earning your worth is within your control and you can start taking these steps instead of waiting for the whole system to change.
To help you on this journey, we have partnered* with Algbra to highlight key organisations and tools that are working to end the gender pay gap. Algbra are building an ethical bank driven by the pursuit of a balanced world that aims to empower its users through ethical financial services. This includes free financial education content which can teach you how to manage your money to grow your wealth and to learn more about the gender pay gap:
Pregnant Then Screwed provide support for women who have faced maternity or pregnancy discrimination. They have been vocal about ‘The Motherhood penalty’ in workplaces as well as the many other barriers mothers face when trying to earn a living while raising children. They give women the confidence and tools to challenge those barriers, and teach them methods for how to deal with their own motherhood penalty. Their work includes proposing legislative change that will foster greater gender parity in both the home and the workplace and providing training to employers to help them better support and retain female talent and working parents. They also support pregnant women and mothers in accessing legal advice on their rights as well as supporting them to challenge cases of discrimination.
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The Fawcett Society is the UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights at work, at home and in public life. Their story begins with Millicent Fawcett, a suffragist and women’s rights campaigner who made it her life’s work to secure women the right to vote. The Fawcett Society have been campaigning for women’s rights for over 150 years through impactful research and hard-hitting campaigns, including Equal Pay Day.
As part of their Equal Pay Day campaign this year, the Fawcett Society is calling on employers to stop asking new recruits how much they were paid in their previous jobs through its ‘End Salary History’ pledge. The idea for this campaign was sparked by the impact of the salary history question on women’s ability and confidence to negotiate better pay.
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When we think of the gender pay gap, it may not conjure up images of fast fashion sweatshops, however, women disproportionately make up 80% of garment workers. Labour Behind the Label is a campaign that works to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry. They raise public awareness and promote collective action from consumers to push for change in the industry by pressuring companies to take responsibility for workers’ rights throughout the entirety of their supply chains.
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The 30% Club believes that gender balance on boards and in senior management not only encourages better leadership and governance, but diversity and inclusion further contributes to better all-round board performance. Their work includes encouraging and supporting Chairs and CEOs to appoint more women to their boards and senior management teams, providing information and help for businesses trying to improve their diversity at all levels – sharing innovations that work and devising new collaborative actions, and creating, promoting and building on research, in order to help governments, institutions and individuals to direct their energies toward activities that make a difference in driving change.
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Since 2017, the UK government has made it compulsory for employers with 250 or more employees to publish figures comparing men and women’s average pay across their organisation. This tool allows you to search and compare gender pay gap data for companies and organisations across various sectors, including banks, supermarkets, and law firms. This can help you be more conscious of which brands and companies are taking the fight against the gender pay gap more seriously.
The gender pay gap is not a new phenomenon and will not be solved overnight. The good news is that companies are starting to take note and there are many individuals and initiatives fighting to address it. But this fight belongs to everyone who believes in social justice for all people.
If you haven’t already discussed your own personal experiences with others, be it peers, colleagues or friends, we recommend you do so today. Not only does being more open about these topics increase transparency which helps us understand the scale of the problem we’re up against, it will also help give us the confidence and power to tackle this issue more collectively. It’s time we start having these conversations openly without shame because when everyone knows where they stand, there will always be a chance for change.
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