Just for once I’m going to pat the Toffs on the back. Don’t get all giddy on me. here.

CallMeDave has announced long needed plans for employers to be transparent about the gaps between pay for women and men. Employ more than 250 staff, and you’re going to have to spill the beans on how niggardly you are with the women working for you. I rather suspect this may surprise the employees as much as anybody.

It’s a bit odd that there’s a gap anyway, since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970. There are some reasons why women tend to be paid less than men. Women who take time out to have children tend to be at a disadvantage when they return to work, since a lot of senior roles are already filled, generally by men. The Fawcett Society refers to this as the ‘motherhood penalty.’

Women also tend to work in jobs that are lower paid anyway. About 80% of health and social care workers are women. Traditionally these have been low pay sectors, so this does raise the awkward question as to why we undervalue these vital roles to such a huge extent.

There’s also the issue that older women are said to be less likely than men of the same age to have been to university. I think that’s a red herring these days, and I’m not convinced by the reasoning.

Needless to say, the Toffs in the Confederation of British Industry are a bit circumspect, and struck a note of caution before trying to weasel the way out of things. Get this classic bit of doublespeak.

‘Addressing the gender pay gap is the right priority, and we should set a target for reducing it.’ So far so good? Well, wait up before you start dancing in the streets. ‘While we believe publishing pay gap data could be misleading (How, precisely?) we will work with the government to ensure rules on what is published are flexible enough to be relevant to each company.’ In other words they’re going to wriggle about like a gaffed fish to avoid coming clean.

A target for reducing it? How about just eliminating it?

By the way, that piece of gobbledygook came from the deputy director general. Who happens to be Katja Hall, and who is a woman. I rather expected better.

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