Categories
Equality and Diversity Future of work

Transparent Salaries Scheme to close Gender-Pay Gap

On International Women’s Day 2022, a government pilot scheme was announced aiming to lessen the gender-pay gap for women. By having employers have totally transparent salaries in job descriptions.

This is definitely a step in the right direction. Find Your Flex have participated in research and are always aiming to be a driving force in eradicating the gender-gap. This will undoubtedly make a positive change in this area, but in other areas as well.

The main aim of this scheme is to remove barriers for women, which is excellent and more than needed. But transparent salaries will have other positive impacts too on job seekers in general.

Although this is a positive step in the right direction, there are questions that this raises. Such as; should this only be a pilot scheme? What are the all round impacts of transparent salaries for employees and job seekers? And what more needs to happen in this area?

How will the Transparent Salaries Scheme affect the Gender-Pay Gap?

First and foremost; transparency in general within the workplace has a positive affect on the removal of all inequality. However, in terms of the gender-pay gap, transparent salaries put men and women on an equal playing field from the get go.

If the salary is transparent in the job description, that means there is little to no chance that the employer is going to pay a man more than a woman for the same role. Whereas, if the salary is advertised as Negotiable or On Application, there is no telling what an employer factors in when deciding what your salary is going to be.

By being transparent, everyone who applies knows they will be getting paid the same regardless of gender. Information is key, and Minister for Women Baroness Stedman-Scott appears to take this stance during her announcement of the scheme:

The UK can only grasp its full potential by championing its brightest and best, and ensuring everyone, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to succeed.

We believe that increased pay transparency will build on positive evidence of the role information can play when it comes to empowering women in the workplace.

It certainly empowers a woman to know what they are going to be paid if successful when applying for a role. If an employer offers less than what was advertised, the applicant is in a position to challenge that.

Though positive, should this have happened sooner?

While we all recognise this is a positive move in the right direction towards gender-equality in employment. Not to put a negative spin on it, but it is important to point out that this is a move that should have happened long ago.

Why is it important to point this out? Because we measure the speed of progress by how long it takes to achieve certain milestones in the present. In reality, making salaries transparent in job descriptions is a really simple yet effective move. One that could have been implemented much sooner.

The conversation on transparent salaries decreasing the gender-pay gap and discrimination has been ongoing for years. Many employers who adopted a transparent salary policy have advocated it’s use to eradicate discrimination.

In 2016 Huffington Post spoke to several business leaders and owners who advocate transparent salaries. Ian Pearman, who at the time was the CEO of one of the UK’s biggest advertising agencies and he put it in the simplest terms:

Nothing is more corrosive than the sense that there is inequality in the system. And layered on top of that may be specific concerns relating to gender and race – ‘Am I paid less because I am a woman? Or from an ethnic minority?’ With transparency, these questions don’t even occur.

When you put it like that, it seems obvious that all organisations should have transparent salary policies. And if you think 2016 is as far back as this goes, you’d be wrong.

In the same article the global food shop Wholefoods stated they have been making the salaries of their employees public since the 1980’s! Yet in 2018 there were still arguments being made against all companies implementing this.

Is there an argument against transparent salaries?

That depends on your point of view. In an article by Time which was published in 2018, with the pros and cons were being weighed up. With the pros still being the eradication of discrimination, closing of the gender-pay gap and employee benefits.

Some of the supposed drawbacks included; risking pitting employees against each other due to jealousy and businesses struggling to hire people to lower rate roles.

In response to the latter; if a business is really struggling to secure applicants, the role must be extremely unappealing and not just from a salary standpoint. If increasing the salary is not possible then there needs to be other benefits to the role that will make up for the lower salary.

As for the former; jealousy and resentment in the workplace is a whole separate issue. If it exists within your organisation there will likely be more to it than just salaries alone. Sadly this is sometimes unavoidable whether employees know each other’s salaries or not.

Though these are challenges, they really cannot be used as excuses in the face of eradicating discrimination and closing the gender-pay gap. It may mean more work for HR department and recruitment but in the long term every company would be better off.

Why is this only a pilot scheme?

Judging from what we have laid out already, you may be wondering why the government is only rolling out a pilot scheme. If the pro’s are so vast and con’s are so minimal shouldn’t a full scheme/legislation be implemented?

That is certainly the hope for the future. However, because this scheme has been planned to achieve a certain goal i.e closing the gender-pay gap, a lot goes into this.

Existing policies, practices and processes may need to change and then if after a set amount of time has past, the scheme will be reviewed. If the objectives have been achieved and the overall outcome is positive then it may lead to a wider scheme or piece of legislation being implemented.

So what could this lead to? If a wider scheme is introduced many big companies will ensure their salaries are transparent. Any companies that don’t will look increasingly unethical. Possibly gaining a bad employer reputation if they don’t make the shift.

Of course the main hope is that a major piece of legislation is passed which will require all UK businesses to be transparent and state salaries on job descriptions. Then they will obligated to do so which would be a major victory for employees and job seekers alike.

Transparent Salaries will not only help close the Gender-Pay Gap, but benefit job seekers in general

Although this scheme is being piloted in an attempt to close the gender-gap. The fact of the matter is that it is a huge step in the right direction for job seekers in general.

In August of last year, Find Your Flex conducted our own research into this topic. We asked whether job applicants are put off applying for a role where the salary is not stated in the job description. Over 4,000 people voted and the overwhelming majority said they would be put off.

They expanded on their reasons providing view points that gave us an understanding of what is important to job seekers.

So why are transparent salaries vital in job descriptions? The most obvious answer is that pay is one of the most important parts of the job for applicants.

What we are paid is what facilitates our lives, so we need to know if the role we are applying for will continue to do this. Not stating a salary from the beginning puts the applicant at a disadvantage.

If the salary is stated as negotiable or on application, the employer holds all the cards. Offering applicants different salaries for whatever criteria they see fit. This is why transparent salaries are not only a tool to combat a gender issue, but discrimination in general.

For all an applicant knows, they are being offered less because of their gender, age, race, experience-level, who knows? If the salary is not stated only the employer knows, how is that fair or right?

Now job applicants will know from the beginning what their salary will be. They know it will be based on their ability to do the job and nothing else. And they will know whether or not the job is worth applying for without wasting their time.

A step in the right direction

All in all, this is a step in the right direction to close the gender-pay gap, erase discrimination from the workplace and empower job seekers.

Should this have happened sooner? Yes it absolutely should. And it does show that as far as progress goes, both the government and employers have a ways to go. We know what the issues in both the workplace and in the employment process are, so it should not have taken this long for this scheme to arise. The time for action is now.

Although, as the old cliche goes: better late than never. And we do want to stress that this is a positive development, if not only for the scheme itself but hopefully the domino effect it will cause.

We are looking forward to what effect this scheme will have on the future of working and we will be watching this space very closely in the meantime.

Thank you for reading, if you would like to find out what more Find Your Flex has to say on this and other topics click the link here.

Categories
Careers Equality and Diversity Future of work

Are We Doing Enough For Women In STEM Roles?

There’s no denying the gender gap that exists in so many industries, women in STEM roles are sadly no exception to this. But research into this has raised some concerning questions and even more concerning answers. There are not enough women in STEM roles, that much is clear but is enough being done to change that?

With the Edinburgh Science Festival coming up, we at Find Your Flex thought this is a topic we want to discuss. Exploring why this is still an issue and the possible solutions to this and why change in this area is so important.

Is there a gender gap in STEM industries?

Naturally we don’t just want to state there is a gender gap without backing it up. But the short answer is yes; there is a significant gap when it comes to women in STEM roles. This is proven by the PwC’s Tech She Can Charter and their report on Women in Tech in the UK. In 2017, WISE conducted research that showed that only 23% of people in STEM occupations were female. This makes over three quarters of the workforce in these roles male. Whats worse is that a separate study in the US shows that only 5% of women were in STEM leadership roles.

Now it would not be fair to say there has been no progress. As the research of WISE revealed that the number of women in STEM roles had increased by 2% from the previous year. Is this progress? Yes… is it enough? No. If this increase per year holds steady it would still be over a decade before there is an equal number of men and women in STEM roles. That is also not taking the pandemic into consideration, this could have had an impact on that increase percentage one way or the other. Either way it is not good enough, the gap needs to be closed at a far quicker rate. So, where does the problem begin?

The Lack of Girls Studying STEM Subjects in School

There are a lot of employment issues that when traced back to their source can start in education. PwC’s research shows that this issue may be no different. They conducted a survey that of over 1000 school students; 83% of the males were studying STEM subjects, compared with only 64% females. Now 19% may not seem like much of a difference however, when you take into account the number of STEM subjects and the number of students, this is still a concerning gap.

A similar statistic in university students studying STEM subjects shows a 52% male versus 30% female difference. But when you break it down the results are more shocking. For example Engineering takes 13% of male STEM students but only 2% female, which says a lot. But it still doesn’t answer the question of why? During interviews, young women stated they didn’t want to study STEM subject as it does not factor into the career they want. Though what is worrying is the response when asked if at any point during their education (including careers advice) a role in technology was suggested. Only 16% of girls had technology careers suggested to them, whereas 33% of males were given these suggestions.

This goes hand in hand with the fact that during interviews many of the young women indicated that many STEM subjects and roles are male dominated which is why they did not wish to study them. And they are right, these statistics prove that. But they also sadly prove that schools are not doing enough to encourage otherwise. And this needs to change.

Early years education and STEM

As signatories of The Tech Talent Charter we are aware of such organisations such as Tech She Can. A charter in which signatories pledge to work with  schools across the UK to educate and inspire pupils and teachers about technology careers.

Let’s not forget the importance of early years education. These children are our future. A future that needs the brightest and most imaginative individuals to be able to flourish, regardless of gender or background. This is the point when children absorb information like sponges. The formative stage where children learn more quickly that at any other stage in life. It is at this point we need to inspire our children. Our young girls need role models and a complete removal from gender bias in STEM. Perhaps the focus should be on our teachers and equipping them with the tools needed to do this.

Women in STEM roles in the Media and Pop-Culture

In PwC’s study, only 22% of students could name a well-known female working in technology. The truth is when you think of famous people in STEM roles, the vast majority are male. There are of course many pioneering women in STEM roles throughout history. Women like Ada Lovelace or Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and many more. Yet despite the numerous women who have revolutionized the world through their work in STEM roles, their names don’t immediately spring to mind. We tend to think of the Steven Hawkings or Albert Einsteins, but why? It could be down to the fact the media over the years have recognized and celebrated the male figures over women. Perhaps the media should be doing more to promote women in STEM roles. Especially during the pandemic, both men and women dealing with this issue have given information and opinions via news channels and in print.

In terms of pop-culture, there are women portrayed in STEM roles in film and particularly television. One that comes to mind is The Big Bang Theory, a comedy that originally started with a cast in which all the scientists were male. Though this changed as the series progressed with female scientists being showcased and two becoming mainstay cast members. Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz with a Ph. D in microbiology and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler a neurobiologist, the latter of whom’s actress has a Ph. D in neuroscience in real life. The show and characters are to this day extremely popular. The two showcased how the females of the group were just as intelligent and successful as their male counterparts and had equally large personalities.

Though other hit television shows have also portrayed STEM female role models. Shows such as Body of Proof; featuring a female protagonist Dr. Megan Hunt; a former Neurosurgeon turned Medical Examiner who has a straight-talking, never-back-down attitude. Even featuring a female in a STEM leadership role as Dr. Kate Murphy is the Chief Medical Examiner. Though there are other shows that showcase females in STEM roles: Grays Anatomy, Casualty, Holby City, Doctor Who etc. So in terms of pop-culture there isn’t a lack of fictional females in STEM roles, so why is there still a lack of non-fictional females in these roles? Its high time life started imitating art on that score.

How to get More Women In STEM roles?

PwC believe that the technology sector must take steps to deal with some of these highlighted issues. However, this should be the responsibility of all STEM industries to get more women into STEM roles as a whole. First and foremost it is the responsibility of STEM organisations to get more involved in the education of young people. They need to do more to raise awareness and showcase the importance of these roles. Make them attractive to young women as well as men. Many students did indicate the reason they wouldn’t consider a role in technology is they don’t know enough about it. STEM organisations should also look inwards to ensure they are providing the women in their company with the same opportunities as the men. More women in senior STEM roles creates more role models and inspirations for future generations.

Schools also need to do better in encouraging girls to study STEM subjects and pursue STEM careers. The statistics above show there is not enough encouragement or access on either front. If girls voice concerns on entering male dominant industries, there needs to be encouragement to overcome this. The research showed roles that make a difference were appealing to young women. Therefore there should be encouragement from both schools and STEM organisations that pursuing these roles makes a difference. A shift in perception is the first and arguably most important step.

The media need to do better at portraying female STEM role models. Make a bigger splash about the life altering contributions females make in STEM fields. Its important that these women are at the forefront of STEM fields to give young women something to aspire to and show them that they are just a capable as any males in this area. Pop-culture is doing a good job at presenting women in these roles, however there is room for improvement. Perhaps television, film and books aimed at a much younger audience should feature more STEM characters. This very well could plant the seeds of girls pursuing STEM fields when they are older.

Hopefully when young girls are grown up enough to make a decision whether or not to pursue a STEM career, the world will be a different place. One where there are just as many female role models in this sector and no obstacles. Its up to society to drive these changes, we need do our best now to set the wheels in motion.

If you want to read more about inspirational women in this and other fields click here! Or more about The Tech Talent Charter then click here.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Industry Flexers Technology Industry

Why Coding Makes A Great Flexible Career For Mums

Time To Consider Coding

When thinking about your flexible work options, have you ever considered coding?

You might have not heard of coding before, but you interact with code every day.

All the websites and apps you use have been built by code. Essentially, code is a set of rules and instructions that we give to a computer which bridges the gap between human language and computer language.

Everyone has the ability to learn to code, you don’t necessarily need to be a math genius or a ‘techie’. All you need is the motivation to learn and time to practice.

Below, are five reasons why coding makes a rewarding and flexible career.

1. Lose The 9-5 And Be In Charge Of Your Working Hours

How about no longer working 9-5?

All you need to code is a laptop and some good wifi! Many coding jobs can be done remotely either at home, in a cafe or even in another country! You can work the hours that suit you- so you’ll able to go to parent’s evening or be there for the school run. After progressing into a fully fledged developer you could work in house for a company, a web agency or as a freelancer with a range of clients that interest you.

2.  Learn An In-Demand Skill

There’s currently a huge digital skills gap; employers are looking to hire people who can code and have a technical understanding. As our world becomes more and more digital, the number of tech jobs is increasing. This report found there are over 7 million jobs which require coding skills and programming jobs overall are growing 12% faster than the market average. You’ll have a constant supply of jobs to apply for and chose from.

3.  Enjoy A Rewarding Career In Coding

Let’s be honest, not all flexible working options are rewarding. Coding definitely is.

At first learning to code may seem daunting, a bit like learning a new language, but you’ll soon start to realise how it all pieces together and that is a hugely rewarding feeling. You can’t help but feel proud after you’ve built your first proper web page- something you’ve written, now lives online!

Coding With 23 Code Street
23 Code Street

4.  Make Use Of Your Whole Skill Set With Coding

Coding allows you to combine your old and new skills- so you won’t feel like your previous skills have been forgotten. You’ll be able to use skills you’ve developed in previous jobs and other experiences to help you – like problem-solving, basic maths, an eye for detail, communicating and the ability to Google!

Also learning to code can be a good way to upskill in your current profession and get a new role or promotion. For example, lots of marketers and designers are learning to code to be able to edit websites and newsletters and work alongside tech teams with confidence. By being technically skilled, this will give you a competitive edge and make you stand out to employers.

5.  Feel Empowered and Empower Others With Coding

Tech is seriously lacking women. Globally 88% of developers are men; this is having a huge impact on the products and services being released- for example, Apple released a health app without a period tracker on.  By learning to code, you ’ll be helping create a more gender-balanced tech industry, smashing gender stereotypes and inspiring the next generation of girls to work in tech.

Coding Group, 23 Code Street
23 Code Street

23 Code Street is a coding school for all women. For every paying student, they teach digital skills to a disadvantaged woman in the slums of Mumbai.

Join their webinar course for beginners starting on the 10th July and learn to code in 12 weeks through weekly webinars in a friendly and supportive environment. You’ll develop a strong foundation in web development including how to build websites and apps for the web and work on your own practical projects. The course costs £550- find out more and apply here.

If you want to learn more about women in technology, then check out our other blog posts in this series. Read about The Fourth Industrial Revolution & What It Can Offer Flexers / Career Changers / Parents.


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