According to new research into inflation and recession by Talent.com, the UK workforce is growing uncertain, with 50% believing that the looming economic recession is a threat to their security. The data also reveals that women are experiencing the financial implications of the downturn more keenly, with 47% of women (versus 39% of men) needing more income for everyday expenses.
The solution might be to ask for a payrise, but whilst 21% of men would ask for a raise, only 15% of women would do the same. Considering that failed requests for pay rises can result in reduced job satisfaction and a rise in employee turnover, employers are now under enormous pressure to act, particularly to save their female staff members.
Women also face barriers in accessing the tools that would help to secure their jobs, such as through upskilling; 52% said they would fund their own training, or undertake training in their own time. But when asked whether they would upskill during work hours, and if their company paid for it, the positive response jumped to 80% – a clear sign that employers need to step in to support female employees’ development.
This reluctance to negotiate pay is often inculcated from the outset. According to further research by Talent.com into salary transparency among 2000 UK-based employees, 40% of women find it difficult to discuss salary in a job interview, which could be contributing to the lingering gender pay gap.
Although more than 50 years have elapsed since the Equal Pay Act was passed – giving an individual the right to the same contractual pay and benefits as a person of the opposite sex in the same employment – Talent.com’s research showed that 13% still reported pay discrimination as a woman/a woman with the same credentials.
Across genders, over a third (39%) of respondents reported that discussing salary at the job interview stage is difficult. Notably – in every age category – more women reported finding it harder than men.
With only 1 in 5 job advertisements listing the salary, it places the onus on the job seeker to raise salary expectations. This could mean that many are leaving money on the table, with a greater impact on women than men.
A study into pay negotiation found that it could be less to do with the fact a candidate is a woman, and instead more about how an interviewer perceives a woman discussing her salary. It found that when a woman initiates negotiation around pay, perception of niceness and demandingness plays a role in the interviewer’s resistance to the negotiator.
This has a real impact on the final salary decision, with 13% of survey respondents reporting pay discrimination as a woman / a woman with the same credentials.
If women struggle to raise the issue of salary expectations, then mandatory salary transparency could be one way to help solve this dilemma. This is backed up by our survey, where 79% of respondents said they would support a law requiring employers to disclose salary information in job postings, with 71% believing that salary transparency would have a positive impact on helping to close the gender pay gap.
With transparency as the key to parity, legislation could be the next step on the road to salary equality. Whilst the Equality Act 2010 requires employers with 250+ employees to report their gender pay gap – providing the data on the problem – an Act that required salary information, whether in the form of exact numbers or salary bands, could provide the action to finally close the gender pay gap.