Response to Gender Pay Gap Review

Chart showing the estimated benefit of closing the gender pay gap is 150 billion pounds

Background to Liberate’s interest in the Gender Pay Gap Review

Liberate is the Channel Islands’ equality and diversity charity. We have branches in Jersey and Guernsey, serving islanders in both Bailiwicks.

Liberate’s mission is to support those who identify as part of a minority or visible minority group (“Minorities”) living in the Channel Islands by, amongst other things, campaigning to reform policies and laws to ensure that Minorities can enjoy the same freedoms and rights as everyone else across the Channel Islands; questioning social attitudes and behaviours which discriminate against Minorities in the Channel Islands; working with government and other providers to ensure equal access to and equal quality of services, such as healthcare, housing and education, for Minorities across the Channel Islands.

It is these elements of our work that are directly relevant to the States of Jersey’s Gender Pay Gap Review. Whilst this particular call for written submissions to the Gender Pay Gap Review Panel is by its very nature focussing on gender, we are aware that a disability pay gap also exists that is in all likelihood much greater in its inequality than the gap between genders. It is our hope that in starting to address some of the issues that exist for women and other under-represented genders in certain roles in the workplace the results will also lead to positive change for other minorities.

Liberate’s response to the Scrutiny Panel’s public call for evidence

Do you think there is a gender pay gap in Jersey?

Jersey would be extraordinary if it did not have a gender pay gap, and our work confirms that it does.

Do you have any evidence to support your perception?

As part of the DIFERA employer accreditation scheme, we ask clients about the salaries of their employees and analyse this data across a number of individual characteristics including gender.

These are our observations from working with clients on the DIFERA journey with regard to the gender pay gap –

  • the gender pay gap is rarely an issue of unequal pay for our clients. Most clients use pay scales of some sort that ensure equal pay for equal work. The gap is the result of fewer genders other than men in higher earning roles;
  • where multiple women own/run the organisation the gender pay gap is much smaller and may even be inverted. However, there appears to be a critical number of women required to make this happen, a woman alone seems to be unable to affect change, even if the sole woman is the CEO;
  • where a gender pay gap exists, the client is aware of it and may have taken steps before to try to address it. This is unsurprising as those organisations that are drawn to the DIFERA accreditation are likely to be aware of equality issues and keen to address inequalities;
  • size of organisation appears to have no bearing on the gender pay gap, and both large and small enterprises can have this problem;
  • industry sector may have a bearing on the gender pay gap with occupations traditionally carried out by women, such as healthcare and teaching, more likely to have women in leadership roles and, therefore, more likely to have a smaller or inverted gender pay gap.

What initiatives do you think could be adopted in order to reduce a gender pay gap?

  • reassessment of gender stereotypes that associate men with career ambition and women with flexible working
  • move to make flexible working the norm rather than the exception, stigma attached to being part time
  • inclusive cultures, diverse talent
  • mentoring, training, support, tailored to individuals (self-confidence for women, self-awareness for men)
  • thinking creatively about roles
  • speaking out when witnessing disparaging comments, bias in selection, under representation, lack of opportunity
  • selection panels that are deliberately diverse
  • greater clarity around job specifications and selection processes so women feel confident in the process
  • leadership

What barriers do you think women face in relation to promotion and progression in the workplace?

In discussions with our DIFERA clients, there are a number of themes that recur across organisations as to why women are not in senior positions in greater numbers. We recognise that the observations below are huge generalisations and will not be the case for all women in the workplace –

  • women lack confidence about their own ability to do the job – there are many studies that show a woman will read a job description and only apply for the role if they meet all of the criteria, whereas men feel confident applying if they meet 60% of the criteria. However, other studies show that lack of self-confidence may not be the only or even the main factor in why women don’t apply for roles. It may also be a greater fear of failure; a greater willingness to follow the rules (the rules in this case being the guidelines about who should apply) – girls are socialised in school to follow rules more than boys; the bias women know exists in some workplaces where women are judged on their track record and men on their potential; the way historically women have broken into the professions, i.e. through their educational achievements rather than what school they went to and who they are connected to; the belief that the workplace is more of a meritocracy than it is – quality work and diligent preparation are not the only, or in some cases even the most important, ingredients to succeed;
  • women don’t want the responsibility – faced with the choice of going home at a reasonable hour and working long hours with a requirement to possibly be away from home regularly, women prefer to take a less senior position that provides a good salary and a work-life balance, rather than a stellar salary with a greater work focus;
  • women carry a larger responsibility for childcare and domestic duties at home – this is something that we investigate with our DIFERA clients by asking whether employees are the person in their household with the majority of the responsibility for its running. The expectation might be that women who carry less of the domestic burden would be higher up in their organisation, but this has not emerged as a clear pattern. However, studies often find that commitment to family responsibilities is a barrier to advancement for women;
  • lack of role models who demonstrate that ‘it can be done’ in an organisation – this factor is also relevant to diversity at management levels generally. There is plenty of research that shows that having diversity at the top levels of an organisation encourages diverse candidates to apply and that those doing the selecting are less likely to suffer from ‘group-think’ and select someone who is ‘just like them’;
  • lack of mentoring for women
  • lack of part time roles at senior levels
  • women feel that they are not heard in the workplace, that their opinions aren’t voiced or valued and they don’t have opportunities to contribute to discussions/decisions
  • lack of support for men who want time at home
  • a system designed by men that is navigated by men

Is there any evidence to suggest that women returning to work after having children are less likely to be successful applicants?

We have not come across any evidence, but it is incredibly difficult to prove as the people doing the selecting may lie about their reasons for de-selection and/or not even be aware that they have a bias against mothers in the workplace and are making judgements based on it.

With the introduction of sex discrimination legislation that includes pregnancy and maternity as protected characteristics and more workplaces talking about what this means in practise it is hoped that this particular bias has lessened.

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