Since the gender pay gap report by the government showed that more than three quarters of UK companies pay men more than women, there have been calls for change. Whether it’s introducing gender quotas or encouraging a flexible working culture, people are standing up to demand the widespread problem be rectified. The latest recruit to the charge? Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow.
Snow told the Daily Mail that he took a 25% pay cut two months ago ‘as a cooperative gesture’ following Channel 4’s publication of their 28.6% gender pay gap. With a reported previous salary of £1m, although that has been contested, he said, ‘I’ve taken a gender pay cut. I did it as a cooperative gesture. I took the cut over two months ago, 25 per cent. Alas, contractually, I am not able to disclose my salary then or now.’
While many have commended his efforts to take a stand against the gender pay gap, and have encouraged other men to follow suit, some have criticized his decision, stating that women should simply be paid the same as him.
It’s certainly true that women’s salaries should be raised in line with men for equal work, and that his gesture will not necessarily tackle the structural injustice women face across all industries, however it is quite clearly a great start.
Creating cultural change is integral to improving gender equality and is often more effective than changing legislation or introducing formal procedures. If more men were to follow suit and take a pay cut in a stand against gender inequality, businesses would be forced to address their problem, even if it’s just to avoid the bad publicity.
That being said, at the heart of the gender pay gap, and what was uncovered in an analysis of the findings from April, the main issue is that women do not occupy enough leadership positions in organisations.
Therefore, it cannot be forgotten that tackling the gender pay gap takes more than pay cuts, and more must be done to ensure women do not encounter the glass ceiling in their workplace. This means ensuring hiring boards and recruitment processes are gender balanced, sponsoring women to increase likelihood of promotion, creating returner programmes after career breaks and ensuring gender quotas are met, especially at the top of businesses.
Another essential tool to tackle inequality? Creating a more flexible working culture, whereby women aren’t penalized for giving birth. This falls in line with creating returner programmes, which would integrate women back into the workforce after maternity leave.
If only it was as simple as paying women more, or paying men less, but ultimately, it is not. While Jon Snow may have taken a great moral stance that could impact his own workplace, we mustn’t forget all the other integral ways we can tackle the gender pay gap, for all women across all industries.