Employers have admitted that they do not know how big the gap is between men’s and women’s pay in their companies, according to HR director of BT UK Bob Mason.
Mason, who chairs the Equal Opportunities Task Force, said he had been meeting with employers around the country to discuss pay in their organisation.
“While most are shocked by the existence of a 20 per cent gap between women’s and men’s average earnings, many also have to admit they don’t know for sure what the situation is in their own organisation,” he said.
He urged employers to take action to improve pay for women. “Every employer has a responsibility to act on this issue and an important step would be to conduct a thorough audit of their pay system – only then will they be able to set about eliminating the pay gap.
Mason’s comments came as the Equal Opportunities Commission marked three decades of the Equal Pay Act yesterday by warning that it could take at least another 30 years to close the pay gap between the sexes.
The EOC’s chairwoman Julie Mellor said, “After 30 years of equal pay legislation, it is hard to believe that women are so consistently undervalued in the workplace.
“Recent research carried out by the Government has estimated the lifetime earnings gap for a mid-skilled childless woman as £241,000 rising to £381,000 if she has two children.”
In the last 30 years more than 12,000 people have applied to have equal pay cases heard by tribunals – but it is thought these are only a tiny proportion of the number of women being paid significantly less than male colleagues.
Mason added, “If employers want to recruit and retain the best people for the job, they need to be seen to be rewarding their staff fairly. This in turn leads to better morale, efficiency and productivity.”