British Women Launch #PayMeToo Campaign To Close Gender Pay Gap

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“If we are serious about tackling the gender pay gap then we have to do more than publish data — we have to show we’re watching what happens next.”

The viral #MeToo campaign last year turned into a powerful movement that encouraged women across the world to unite and break their silence about sexual harassment and misconduct.

Taking a cue from it, this year women in the United Kingdom are joining forces to start #PayMeToo campaign.

MP Stella Judith Creasy, a British Labour Cooperative politician, along with a group of other female MPs, is highlighting another contentious and prevalent issue of the society: the gender pay gap.

These MPs are encouraging women to hold their employers accountable if they are found guilty of being biased toward men in regards to wages.

The leader of the campaign, Creasy, will kick-start the movement by launching an online campaign called #PayMeToo, which aims to give working women advice on how to tackle the gender pay gap where they work.

The frustrated female workforce, which has been subjected to disparaging behavior for years, finally raised their voices against wage discrimination, which prompted the U.K. authorities to take an unprecedented step: They passed legislation forcing companies to disclose their gender pay gap.

A deadline was last Friday for government departments, NHS trusts, universities, schools and other public bodies with more than 250 employees to report their gender pay gap. The companies scrabbled to report before the deadline and the result confirmed that protests of working women didn’t come out of thin air.

Reported figures revealed  women in the public sector are paid on average 14 percent less than their male colleagues.

“These figures show us what we expected — we still see an underrepresentation of women at the top and overrepresentation at the bottom,” said Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society. “The public sector matters for women because it is women who are overwhelmingly dependent on public services, so getting women into decision-making positions is key.”

After significant pay gaps were exposed in such big public institutions, a new deadline was set for the private companies to come clean with the wage structure they follow. All private companies with more than 250 employees are, by law, supposed to reveal the difference in hourly rate paid to men and women before midnight on Wednesday, April 4.

The social media campaign is accompanied by the #PayMeToo website, which collectively aims to keep pressure on the companies, reminding them their distorted wage structure won’t go unnoticed or unquestioned anymore.

Moreover, it will give a platform to working women to expose discriminatory practices at their workplace. This way, women will feel that pay issues are to be addressed and can also seek advice on how to go about it.

The campaign is backed by Creasy’s fellow Labour MPs Jess Phillips and Lucy Powell, Conservative MP Nicky Morgan, Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson, Christine Jardine and Layla Moran, as well as the Scottish National Party’s Hannah Bardell and Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts.

“If we are serious about tackling the gender pay gap then we have to do more than publish data — we have to show we’re watching what happens next,” said Creasy.

In order to give women a sense of direction, the MPs put together a #PayMeToo survey, which “will help inform our debates on parliament about how to address these issues.”

“Women are already telling us that they are being told not to ask difficult questions about this for fear of affecting their careers and we want to be clear that trying to silence employees isn’t the right response,” Creasy explained. “Every woman has her own story of experiencing pay discrimination in their careers including me — now they need to know they have MPs ready to listen to them and act.”

She further called out the senior managers to work toward introducing the corrective measures instead of criticizing the movement.

“If you have a gender pay gap you should expect to be challenged to address it and held to account if you try to stop your staff speaking up, whether by trade unions, women’s networks or parliament,” she said.

The government’s gender pay website contains information about several companies, from mean and median gender pay gaps to bonus pay gaps and percentage of men and women in each quartile of their business. That is why Swinson is urging employees to refer to the website to get a better understanding of the wage structure of the desired company.

“This year has revealed a lot but in subsequent years it will become increasingly difficult to hide,” she said. “Warm words used by employers about how they are going to tackle the gender pay gap will be noted by workers and measured against the reality.”

The #PayMeToo campaign encourages women to be inquisitive about the earnings of their colleagues and a company’s action plan for dealing with the gender pay gap. It also suggests joining a union and urging their reps to take up the issue, adding: “Take it to your Women’s Network if you have one. If you don’t, start one.”

Time will tell how well this movement will be received and whether women will be able to fight such discriminations in patriarchal societies, as the campaign has already started to stir displeasure among some men.

 

 

Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Pixabay

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