By s1jobs


There’s been a great deal of talk about pay differences between men and women – how big is the gap, is it narrowing, how do we eliminate it? But despite all the high-level discussion, there remains a culture of secrecy about salaries at ground level that doggedly hampers efforts to achieve parity.

A recent study by HR software provider CIPHR found that while nearly all workers agree that the UK has a gender pay gap, more than half do not believe there are disparities in their own workplace. Only 36 per cent believed their employer had a pay gap favouring men, with 59% of women and 52% of men saying there was no pay inequality at their place of work.

The UK’s gender pay gap is closing, but only very slowly. Current estimates are that it will be something in the order of 30 years before a level playing field is achieved, with four out of five employers having a gap that favours men.


Publishing pay gap figures is just the first step to making changes. On an individual level, 36% of those polled by CIPHR said they don’t talk about their salary with their spouse or partner, while a similar number said they are actively discouraged from talking about pay with colleagues – one in 20 employees are banned from such discussions by clauses in their employment contracts.

It seems about the only time there is little compunction to discuss pay is during the hiring process, when the pernicious practice of disclosing salary history ensures that past pay discrimination follows women, minorities and those with disabilities from one job to the next. Banning such disclosures would be a swift and decisive step towards equality.

On the other hand, the sharing of wage and benefit information among employees would lift the shroud of secrecy that bolsters misconceptions such as those uncovered by the CIPHR survey. After all, it’s hard to ask for equal pay if you’ve no idea what your peers earn.

READ MORE: Job seekers still facing the shameful wall of silence 

Many employees want to include an organisation’s gender pay balance in their calculations when looking for a job. Employers have a lot to gain by providing this information up front.

Unfortunately, the Government’s decision to suspend gender pay gap reporting during the pandemic has made the situation worse. The gap for full-time workers currently stands at 11.9%, up from 10.6% last year, while that for all workers – both full and part-time – has increased by a percentage point to 14.9%.

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