LLEP Board member and Freeths director Emma Anderson appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics East Midlands last week to discuss the gender pay gap. Although Leicester has a smaller gender pay gap than the national average (9% rather than 17.8%), The fact that there is one at all means that there is still work to be done.
Emma was asked about the figures and said that it is disappointing that we are still having to have this conversation in 2019. She said that the gender pay gap is a bit of a crude measure in that it doesn’t take account of the demographics of an organisation and that the reporting requirements only apply to businesses with over 250 employees. In our area 89% of businesses have fewer than ten employees so a lot of data isn’t being captured.
The ‘gender pay gap’ is not the same thing as equal pay, and the reasons for the gap being lower in Leicester are not entirely positive. They relate partly to the fact that we have a higher than national average proportion of our workforce on low wages, higher than average numbers of workers in the healthcare and manufacturing sectors which tend to be low skilled, low paid jobs. Emma stated that while it is good that the gap is low, there is still a gap and we mustn’t be complacent. On the plus side, the fact that we were having a conversation is a good thing which will hopefully lead to greater transparency and be a driver for change.
In terms of what politicians should do about these issues, Emma would like to see more flexible working and businesses taking a flexible approach to that, an increase in the take up of shared parental leave and the importance of mentoring and coaching and promoting positive female role models referring the phrase that you need to “see it to be it”.
Emma’s appearance can be caught on BBC iPlayer, from 11 minutes in.
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