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#metoopay: Taking on unequal pay

100 senior women from the business world have come together to launch #metoopay, taking inspiration from the #metoo movement started in 2017.

We have all heard plenty about the Gender Pay Gap, but the #metoopay campaign is focusing specifically on equal pay, to ensure that men and women are paid equally for the same role. (The gender pay gap is a result of companies having more senior men than women.)

The campaign was inspired by the case of BNP Paribas employee Stacey Macken who took her employer to a tribunal, after finding out a male colleague with the same job title was paid hundreds of thousands of pounds more over five years. Her case highlighted not just equal pay issues, but also the difficult, alpha male culture that Stacey had to put up with amongst her male colleagues including repeatedly being told “not now, Stacey” by her manager, and eventually her colleagues as they heard it so often. The three year battle finally concluded last month with a win for Stacey – a great way to start the #metoopay campaign.

So what is #metoopay? It’s being led by Dame Moya Greene, the former chief executive of the Royal Mail, alongside 99 more successful businesswomen. There’s a website with a bit of blurb, but in the future it will be a platform where women can share stories about pay discrimination they have suffered and practical advice and resources. We look forward to seeing it in action! For now you can sign up to receive updates.

A changing landscape

It’s great to see new initiatives being launched – the #metoo movement across the pond and the implementation of Gender Pay Gap reporting has really galvanised a latent desire to affect change on a greater scale than ever before. There is a long way to go and it will take time to see gender equality in all the different spheres of life we’d like to see it – benefiting men and women. But with more people standing up, raising awareness, and offering solutions/ interventions, who knows what change we’ll be able to see sooner rather than later!

Negotiating pay

There’s a fair amount of evidence around women and negotiating salaries – in her eye-opening “What works: Gender equality by design”, Harvard Professor Iris Bohnet shares research to show that women are less likely to negotiate starting salaries and so start on lower salaries than men. Women are also less likely to apply for jobs where the compensation isn’t stated clearly, and are more likely to negotiate when told they can.

But the kicker is that when women do negotiate and ask for higher compensation, in most people’s minds, they violate gender norms. A study found that research participants judged female candidates who negotiated for benefits to be less hireable than females who did not negotiate, while men who asked for the same suffered from hardly any penalty. However, there is a way – a right way to negotiate to help mitigate this bias. Women are not penalised, and are actually better at negotiating with a communal motivation. This means that when negotiating, women should put forward what they will do for the company and how her being hired will benefit everyone.

Help is out there. A unique and truly accessible offer comes from Natalie Reynolds who launched Make Your Ask in 2018. Her goal is to empower one million women around the world to negotiate effectively and make their ask – through an online course that can be purchased for just £10! However, ultimately, the onus shouldn’t just be on women having to fight their corner and there are steps that companies can take. The most important and hotly debated of which is pay transparency – if you know what all your colleagues are making, then there’s no way a woman (even inadvertently) can be paid less than a man for the same role.

Gender Pay Gap

On the same day that the #metoopay campaign was launched, PWC and The Diversity Project launched a report about the Gender Pay Gap in the investment industry, and it does not make the most encouraging reading.

“Although the investment industry is lagging other sectors, there are signs of ‘diversity fatigue’ and push back. Business leaders may be convinced of the need to act, but too many investment professionals perceive the issue to be more about political correctness than a driver of investment performance or the long-term success of their firm. There is resentment about special programmes designed to foster diverse talent, even where the motivation is to create the best investment teams.”

Helena Morrissey, Chair of The Diversity Project and Head of Personal Investing at Legal & General Investment Management, sees a way forward. She said, “diversity and inclusion needs to be treated just like any other business issue, featured on every strategy day agenda, in every performance review, every hiring, promotion and reward decision, every risk and culture assessment.”

It’s great to see such inspiring leaders like Dame Moya Greene and Helena Morrissey take up the good fight, but everyone has a role to play. And hopefully sooner rather than later, we can be confident that future generations won’t have to face the same gender battles we have.

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