Friday, 15 April 2016

BBC World interview on Equal Pay

I've been back on BBC World talking about the gender pay gap and equal pay.

The context was Equal Pay Day, set up 20 years ago by Bill Clinton, and Hillary's support for its continuation in Glassdoor's panel event.

I talked about Glassdoor's economic research confirming that there is a real gender pay gap, but that most of this is explained (or as Hillary suggested, explainable but not justificable) ie that we need to find a way to ensure that society doesn't divert women away from high paid to low paid jobs and get in the way of their progression.  I think it might even be deeper than this ie that some of the high paying jobs are only high paying because they relate to the sort of activities which men tend to value.  In a fairer world, jobs based on caring, service and education might be better paid, and those in casino banking a bit less.  That's not to say more women wouldn't benefit and be engaged from finding jobs in STEM, technology and other areas, but I do think the jobs that women currently tend to take deserve being more highly valued too.

However about a third of the gap can't be explained like this, is a result of real unequal pay, and more direct bias, conscious or unconscious, within the workplace.  The results matter because Glassdoor has used the actual salaries entered by people in its site, so this is a much more granular and therefore accurate analysis than we've ever had before.

I enjoyed the interview though I was a bit disappointed in not finding an opportunity to talk about pay transparency particularly as I followed on from discussion around Bob Dudley's rather obscene pay levels, tax avoidance, corporate greed and an interview with Dr Kim at the World Bank noting that transparency isn't going to go away.  Glassdoor's findings show that employees believe this will be an important means to move towards equality.

I also regretted not being able to get to see Iris Bohnet speak at the LSE as she also covers a lot of great research around gender equality.  Did you know for instance that politically correct language helps both men and women in a team to perform.  That's one reason why Isabel Hardman was right to call out the UK MP who called her the totty.

I also think Bohnet's ideas about nudging organisations to reduce the impact of bias are very sound eg women are more likely to give a good speech if they see a picture of Hillary rather than Bill Clinton, and are less likely to go into computing if this is promoted through pictures of Luke Skywalker.  I'm not sure how Princess Leia relates.

You may also be interested in some of my other BBC interviews for Glassdoor, eg:

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