Government launches pay transparency pilot to remove barriers for women

  • Minister for Women, Baroness Stedman-Scott, launches initiatives to improve employment opportunities for women
  • Participating employers will run pilot projects to close wage gaps by posting wages on all job postings
  • New ‘comeback’ program to help women move into STEM roles after taking time off to care for loved ones

Women’s Minister Baroness Stedman-Scott is today (8 March) launching two new initiatives aimed at improving employment opportunities for women as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Announced on International Women’s Day, a new initiative will aim to improve pay transparency in the application process and help companies that want to go even further to attract women to their jobs. Evidence shows that listing a salary range on a job posting and not asking applicants to disclose salary history gives women a strong basis to negotiate salaries on a fairer basis. . This could have a significant impact on reducing pay gaps and tackling pay inequalities.

The government is therefore leading the way with a pilot scheme, where participating employers list salary details on job postings and stop asking questions about salary history when recruiting.

At the same time, the government will launch a new comeback scheme to help women return to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. Research and employee feedback show that returning to STEM roles after taking time off to care for loved ones can present significant challenges. This new program will help organizations recruit and retain talented staff who are often overlooked due to a gap on their CV, by providing training, development and employment support to those who have taken time to take care of them.

Women’s Minister Baroness Stedman-Scott said:

“The UK can only capture its full potential by championing its brightest and best and ensuring that everyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity to succeed.

“We believe that increased pay transparency will build on positive evidence of the role information can play when it comes to empowering women in the workplace. It is essential that we keep women at the forefront of the upgrading agenda as we recover from the pandemic and rebuild together.

“Our second announcement, supporting qualified women to return to STEM careers after care leave, will keep talented minds in STEM alive and improve the representation of women and marginalized communities in these incredibly important roles.”

International data also shows that job seekers place high importance on salary when looking for their next career move. In a Glassdoor survey, 68% of people say salary was the most important factor in a job offer, showing that when possible, it’s a good idea to share salary details at the very beginning of the application process.

Plus, research from the Fawcett Society shows that having to provide salary history makes everyone less confident when negotiating their salary. This has a particularly negative impact on women’s confidence, with 58% saying they feel they received a lower salary offer than they would have had the question not been asked during the application process. .

However, the government recognizes that many employers have not agreed on pay scales and that ambiguous pay policies and historical pay decisions can make it difficult for them to include salary information in job offers. ‘use. This is why the upcoming pilot project will see the government working with employers to develop and pilot a methodology for others to adopt, so that all organizations can provide salary information at the recruitment stage and no longer depend on questions about salary history if they wish.

Jemima Olchawski, Fawcett Society, Executive Director:

“We are pleased that the government is encouraging employers to remove built-in biases from recruitment practices and support our call to end wage history. Asking about pay history keeps women on lower pay and contributes to the UK gender pay gap – and may mean past pay discrimination follows women and other groups down the drain. throughout their career.

“Evidence from U.S. states that have banned asking questions about past wages shows that this is a simple, evidence-based way to improve pay equality for women, people of color, and people with disabilities. This is an important first step. We hope that more employers will heed this call and sign the Fawcett Pledge, as part of further actions to close their pay gaps.”

The government has already implemented 25 return programs in the private and public sectors and will use the lessons learned from these initiatives to design the new STEM programme.

Unpaid care work, including childcare and informal adult care, is disproportionately done by women. This can have a big impact on salary and progression, with research showing that returning graduates are, on average, paid 70% of the hourly wage of an equivalent colleague who has not been absent from work.

By launching the New Returns Scheme, the government hopes to support those looking to return to work, particularly in STEM sectors. The 2021 STEM Returns Index survey found that 61% of returns found the industry return process difficult or very difficult. Those who returned said they were overqualified for their role and entered at lower levels than they were before their hiatus.

In line with the Government’s commitment to increase opportunities, the new scheme will support returnees across the UK – giving them the chance to refresh and develop their skills in areas where their talents are most needed. It will last at least two years, and the evidence collected will enable and provide a basis for organizations to deliver their own return programs.

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