GENDER PAY GAP IN THE UK

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Introduction 

Gender pay gap is a sensitive issue that has consistently failed to attract legislation among many countries in the world. While the government and allied sectors may not distinguish between gender pay directly, it happens due to the job descriptions that inherently discriminate women. Gender pay disparities unfortunately exist in almost every nation on the globe. Women are offered either less competitive jobs or similarly tasking vocations for less pay. In the United Kingdom, the gender pay gap is estimated to be 9.4 percent, a figure that consistently constantly reduces, as more women are absorbed into roles that are traditionally preserved for men. Many women are taking up masculine tasks for several reasons. Regardless of the concerns and needs they seek to address, employers in the private sector continue to prefer men to women in the United Kingdom (Cooke, et al., 2009). This study seeks to explore alternatives to bridge the gender gap in the UK as well as the associated requirements for each alternative. 

Background 

The United Kingdom is among the oldest civilizations on earth. Indeed, the social issues currently bedeviling the world are pertinent concerns in this society. As most communities, societies and civilizations have done in the recent past, they have continued to let women play a peripheral role in the societal developmental matters. Issues such as research, innovation and development have been entirely the preserve of men (Mandel & Shalev, 2009). However, as men continued to renege their responsibilities and leave more women as independent mothers and senior spinsters, women have continued to take up masculine responsibilities such as leading families. Generally, the issues of job description and apathy have existed due to the believe that women ‘could not handle’ certain tasks. As they continue to disapprove this notion, women are becoming more concentrated among men in different job descriptions. The jobs that women do that have men at the same rank and assigned responsibilities often bring about disparities in pay and working terms (Drolet & Mumford, 2012).

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  In the United Kingdom, the wage gap in the male and female gender is partly due to a number of reasons. The most relevant of these reasons is the nature and number of work hours committed. For the working population in the United Kingdom, there is about 42% of women who work part time, compared to only about 11% of men. This convinces employers that women are less committed to work than men. There is also the issue of number of hours; such that men often consider working longer hours as compared to women. Their rate is thus often higher. Nonetheless, the debate has often been about the nature of job done as compared to the number of hours committed. Many feminist and gender pay equality activists argue that throughput should be the determining issue in pay determination. Many employers nonetheless seem to differ with these sentiments, preferring the availability and reliability of employees as the determining factor (Leaker, 2008).

Options to address pay gap 

Several options can efficiently aid in the reduction of the pay gap in the United Kingdom. The first of these options is job classification in the private sector. The government sector jobs have greatly achieved low wage gap between genders due to the classification of jobs. This ensures that for each category of work, the occupant of the role or position is entitled to specific salary range in spite of the gender. Women can thus use the issue of job classification to campaign for affirmative action in the employment of women in different job classes. Eventually, the concern is to guarantee that women can competitively get similar type of jobs that men do get, and have their employers confident in their abilities (Manning & Saidi, 2010). 

The second tactic that can best be used to address wage disparity is legislation. Enacting laws is always the best way to enforce measures of any nature around the world. Governments and public sector alike have laws that determine how certain procedures are executed. In order to minimize discrimination among women, it may help to have legislation supporting employment of women in almost similar quantities as men. Although current legislation does discourage discrimination, it is often difficult to prove this discrimination; given that women are all but disadvantaged where men offer more competition and credentials for particular job descriptions. The law needs to be amended to call for affirmative action on every company and organization, so at to have women offered competitive jobs at executive level as well (Olsen, et al., 2010). 

Requirements to satisfy options 

In order to satisfy the option of job classification in the private sector, the government needs to give incentives to organizations that present such a measure. This often comes in the name of tax cuts. Organizations should be discouraged from having roles that entirely discriminate women by asking them to include such measures in their corporate social responsibility actions. Over time, the structure of the organization can change to be accommodative of society, yet as profitable as always if not better. This measure does not need legislation. This is because; legislation may seem to be a punitive measure to organizations that do not really have a plan to accommodate women in their setup. They can be encouraged and motivated to do so through persuasion. It should be the better approach before government can consider legislation such as decrees and executive orders (Lips, 2013).

Legislation requires that there be support from the majority of the country. The nation can do so using its elected representatives who may sponsor a bill in parliament. The civil society can also enhance legislation by sponsoring bills as well. The only challenge with legislation is that not only is the process long, it also requires executive input and may be derailed by many interest groups. Legislation requires vocal and convincing arguments alongside facts and damning statistics that can aid the legislature in understanding the common problem as well as determining ways to solve it. Legislation thus needs to be initiated based on fact and the need to address a national concern. It is vital that where necessary, many deliberations be held concerning the type of laws and clauses required, as well as the effect of such law (Grove, Hussey, & Jetter, 2011).

Comparison of Options 

Persuasion is difficult but effective. It requires the involved parties to have a common ground of understanding that can best meet the needs of the community as the interests of the private sector are safeguarded. Indeed, organizations need to see reason as to why they should balance their work force or expand it to accommodate more women. It is of essence that women be included in a setup that is beneficial to the organization. Coming up with such structures takes time. Legislation on the other hand is a slow process as well. It requires a lot of input from many stakeholders and preferably referendums to understand th view of the public on the matter. Laws should also not seek to punish companies for their setup and lack of significant composition of women among their ranks. Each legislative measure should be for the good of the country but be lean on organizations as well (Antonczyk, Fitzenberger, & Sommerfeld, 2010).

Conclusion 

Addressing the gender pay gap in the United Kingdom will require commitment and understanding from the private sector as well as the government. Developing a proper scheme to appreciate the employees in the private sector requires proper job classification. If the government can get companies to agree to classification and publishing of Human Resource data consistently, they would be more willing to reduce the employment gap, and eventually the wage gap. There are no sure ways to handle any problem. However, where discussions and negotiations seem not to work in a social setting, it is important to enact rules of engagement. Amending laws to direct and encourage employment of more women can be quite beneficial to the social setting in the United Kingdom. It should however be a last result as it may imbalance the political and economic setting of the nation. Many vested interests are concerned when major social issues lead to legislation. It is thus not advisable to enforce or enact legislation unless necessary (Brynin & Güveli, 2012).

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Recommendation 

The current state of the United Kingdom demonstrates a diminishing gap in gender pay. It is apparent that over time, the gap will fully be managed. Regardless, in order to accelerate the speed at which organizations comply to equal pay, it may help to consider job classification and legislation as options to discourage the discrimination of women at the workplace. As compared to legislation, job classification is a less punitive and mildly aggressive strategy to achieve equal pay for equal work not only in the UK but also across the world.

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  1. Antonczyk, D., Fitzenberger, B., & Sommerfeld, K. (2010). Rising wage inequality, the decline of collective bargaining, and the gender wage gap. Labour economics, 17(5), 835-847. 
  2. Brynin, M., & Güveli, A. (2012). Understanding the ethnic pay gap in Britain. Work, employment and society, 26(4), 574-587.
  3. Cooke, T. J., Boyle, P., Couch, K., & Feijten, P. (2009). A longitudinal analysis of family migration and the gender gap in earnings in the United States and Great Britain. Demography, 46(1), 147-167.
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  6. Leaker, D. (2008). The gender pay gap in the UK. The Labour gazette, 2(4), 19-24.
  7. Lips, H. M. (2013). The gender pay gap: Challenging the rationalizations. Perceived equity, discrimination, and the limits of human capital models. Sex Roles, 68(3-4), 169-185.
  8. Mandel, H., & Shalev, M. (2009). How welfare states shape the gender pay gap: a theoretical and comparative analysis. Social Forces, 87(4), 1873-1911.
  9. Manning, A., & Saidi, F. (2010). Understanding the gender pay gap: what’s competition got to do with it?. ILR Review, 63(4), 681-698. 
  10. Olsen, W., Gash, V., Vandecasteele, L., Walthery, P., & Heuvelman, H. (2010). The gender pay gap in the UK 1995-2007: research report number 1
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