The gender pay gap is a problem throughout the world. Although it ranked above many other countries in a recent report, the UK still has a significant amount of work to do when it comes to equality of the sexes in the workplace.
The United Kingdom ranks 26 out of 142 on the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Gender Gap Index, a disconcerting 17-spot drop in ranking since 2006. The UK is surrounded by the current highest-ranking countries, all in Northern Europe and Scandinavia, with Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark filling up the top five slots, respectively.
It has fallen behind several African and South American countries such as Rwanda, which, at number seven, shows the most promise out of all developing countries.
So that leaves us with the question: why the drop? According to the report’s highlights, all the factors that are examined and ranked, such as economic participation and opportunity, education, and political empowerment, have either plateaued or dropped around the world within the past decade.
A Sticky Social Situation
Unequal treatment in the workplace is nothing new. Though this is an economic problem that has been around for as long as we can remember, there are social implications closely linked to the numbers that make bridging the gender gap much more complicated.
According to numerous sources, such as this Forbes discussion on the matter and NPR’s blog post on different pay standards, as a result of low pay expectations and the difficulties of competing in a male-dominated industry, women often find themselves either asking for less money than men do or choosing less lucrative career paths.
What Can Recruiters Do?
Now more than ever, it is important to make it a part of your company’s mission to try to close this gender gap. There are plenty of smart, high-achieving women out there who would love to take part in your company’s efforts and it's your responsibility to make sure your employer brand promotes the opportunity, irrespective of gender, age or any other factor.
The social differences in women versus men in the workplace must be addressed, such as flexibility on matters like maternity leave and potential part-time work in order to balance career and family. Another good idea is to start screening candidates based on their respective strengths rather than using the traditional, experience-based model.
It works both ways: the more gender is treated as a non-issue, in education, in industry choice, or in the recruitment process, the more it will be seen that way from all perspectives. We will only see progress if awareness is perpetuated and prioritised, turning around the UK’s current downward trend.