‘Gender pay gap’ is not a sign of discrimination

I welcome the report Should We Mind the Gap? by professor Shackleton, which represents a much needed challenge to the widespread misconception that the gender pay gap is a product of discrimination (Personneltoday.com, 21 October).

This is an emotive issue, and the popular view that a yawning pay gap exists has been propounded by inadequate and scientifically baseless surveys, mainly conducted by trade unions. Some have proclaimed discrimination after comparing the earnings of a part-time female with a full-time male, without making necessary adjustments for working hours. Others have drawn comparisons with roles that are incomparable because they are inherently dissimilar and call for vastly different abilities and skillsets. A study which compares the earnings of a male HR business partner with a female HR assistant and then concludes discrimination is flawed, and unquestionably so.

The assertion by Brendan Barber of the TUC that thousands of women claim discrimination, and his implication that this somehow represents evidence of pay disparity, illustrates my point. By no means is an expressed suspicion conclusive evidence of a pay disparity, let alone discrimination.

A gender pay gap does exist in some organisations, from the investigatory works I have carried out on this subject but it is infinitely smaller than media reports might suggest. That is if you make valid, matched comparisons with large samples. Discrimination, where and if it does exist, probably accounts for a very small component.

I back Shackleton’s assertion that government intervention in this matter is a wasted effort.

Shoz Rahman, compensation analyst

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