Schroders case reignites demands for equal pay audits

A tribunal ruling that a female City
analyst was discriminated against because she received a smaller bonus than her
male colleagues has intensified pressure on the Government to introduce
mandatory equal pay audits.

Julie Bower, a former
employee of Schroder Securities, now part of Schroder Salomon Smith Barney, was
paid a bonus of £25,000 in 1998, an amount the tribunal called “insultingly
low”.

The Equal Opportunities Commission,
which backed Bower’s case, claimed it sets a clear example of the need for
mandatory pay audits. The Government is advocating a voluntary approach.

Juris Grinbergs, a member of the
Equal Pay Task Force and HR director of Littlewoods, said, “It is a deeply
embarrassing and sensitive case that will act as a catalyst for organisations
to look at their own pay systems.

“This case proves that equal pay
reviews are something that employers should be doing.”

Schroder Securities did not monitor
its recruitment or pay levels to see whether discrimination occurred.

Last week’s tribunal verdict agreed
that Bower’s bonus did not reflect her performance and that it would have been
higher if she was a man. Male colleagues received bonuses of £200,000 and over.

Furthermore, she was falsely told
that she had the lowest score of any team leader, when she ranked 37th out of
68.

“It was hard to conceive a process
more lacking in transparency,” stated the tribunal.

Bower resigned after a deliberate
plan by her manager to drive her out, the tribunal claimed.

“The way in which Schroders dealt with
my complaints about the way I was being treated was completely unacceptable and
I hope no-one else has to go through the same sort of thing again,” said Bower.

A spokesman for Schroder Salomon
Smith Barney said the merged company had policies for hiring, promotion and
remuneration that fully reflect gender equality.

Both parties have six weeks to agree
compensation, before it goes to a hearing.

Personnel Today has taken a stand on
the need for mandatory equal pay audits. Our News Barometer survey showed that
76 per cent of HR professionals agree.

By
Richard Staines

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