Soooooo…. this gender pay gap business…. let’s discuss.


Naturally, given the business we’re in, this is a topic close to our hearts at V&C. We are all for complete equality and all that swag. At the same time were not man haters, in fact there’s a couple of handsome hunks we know of who we managed to cajole into walking down the aisle with us – boys… you know who you are (and checking that you’re reading this post so you’ll be in deep shit if there’s no like or comment on it #justsayin). Equality and respect work both ways. So let’s continue on that premise.


On the face of it, the recently reported stats about the gender pay gap don’t look good. However, as my husband points out to me a million times a day…. the devil is in the detail darling!


I’m going to begin by giving a degree of credit to the small number of organisations that have got the gender equality thing spot on. Bravo. One of which was the military. Interesting right? But great!

By the same token, in like for like roles, there are quite a few companies that are doing ok at that superficial level. It’s only when you start to peel back the layers that examine the detail that the shit seeps up, particularly in the businesses that do have a significant gender pay gap e.g. Phase Eight and EasyJet whom I’ll use for easy pickings as they came in somewhere in the region of 64% and 53% gaps respectively. (WTF??)


I’m actually astounded that some of these companies feel it completely acceptable to reason the gap away with “there are more men in head office/senior roles. In same roles we pay equally”


You bunch of donuts! That’s actually friggin worse!


However, here’s where it gets interesting for me. For every person they interviewed about this, they all got on their soap box and began ranting about what the government or these big companies need to do. Granted, there is a degree of responsibility that lies at those doors but where is the focus on the people themselves in any of these jobs??


Let’s talk specifically about the fact that there are more men in the big jobs in head office and more women on the shop floor as this for me is the single biggest issue. There are numerous avenues to consider.


Firstly, gals, it’s important we check in with each other on this one because it appears we’re not all on the same page. There are plenty of women ‘gobbing off’ as we say in the north west, about how men trample all over women and that there is no opportunity for women to get into these roles and be paid the same.

No 1 – there are lots of women who CHOOSE not to be in those roles, for a plethora of reasons I shan’t go into now or we’ll be here till next feckin Christmas, so know that we always have a choice. (Potentially controversial I know but I’m comfortable to put that out there)


No 2 – IF you are a woman who DOES want to be in one of those jobs (or is and wants to be paid equally), then ranting and raving about it isn’t the way to go. I’ve coached and supported a number of women in this position and the single biggest thing I notice that is consistent across them all is that it’s comes from an unaccountable place AND there is a skill gap. Let me explain, moany, complaining people that point the finger at everything and everyone other than themselves have no influence (that’s if they even have the conversation with the right person anyway, I often see examples of energy being wasted on talking to everyone but the person you should about it!). I’ve seen many a Facebook conversation this weekend of women winding each other up over this but I wonder how many of them will actually do anything about it??

A lot of women actually put off having the conversation at all and when we get under the skin of this it reveals a lack of confidence which is the result of not being skilled enough to hold the conversation that will get them the outcome they are looking for eg assertiveness.


Now to the blokes. They also have a part to play. There’s a right mixed bag out there. It still surprises me how many ‘boys clubs’ still exist. In these setups the leadership is downright shite, trust me I’ve seen it with my own eyes! The egos are massive, it’s all ‘you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours’, dodgy deals done on the golf course and senior teams created by recruiting clones of themselves – surrounding themselves with ‘Yes’ men who will big them up and agree with them. FFS!

Which brings me onto the part to be played by HR. This is about creating a culture that values diversity. Most big businesses have at least one person or perhaps a team dedicated to diversity and inclusion but this is often predominantly centered around disability. More needs to be done to bring diversity between men and women together. We ARE different and have different qualities that we can bring to the party. Time spent exploring that in the workplace, raising awareness, encouraging collaboration between the sexes, discovering the gender talents and playing to those strengths. You get the picture right?


So I think we’re at that point where you may be wondering what value we can add to this situation. The answer is LOTS!


We can help women work out whether they even want to have one of these jobs by supporting and coaching them in figuring out what will make their life happy and fulfilling.


For those women who want to progress or have the pay conversation, we can help them become more accountable in their situation to make it happen as well as develop their confidence by growing their skill set e.g. that assertiveness we spoke about.


Thirdly we work with lots of women’s networks in organisations and also with HRDs to shape the diversity and inclusion agenda to begin to shift the culture. We run lots of workshops for women’s networks to help them grow their skills, confidence, self worth and self esteem to have the right level of ego to be successful in the right way (we even have men begging to come to those sessions because they feel they are missing out! And we don’t turn them away, we welcome them!).


If you or your organisation would like an alternative approach to addressing the pay gap then get in touch, we’d love to talk!