Getting to grips with the gender pay gap

The Economist this week published an article delving deeper into the gender pay gap. In it they highlight that the pay gap for men and women doing the same type of job is much smaller than averages suggest, and the gap between the genders when they are employed in the same company doing the same role narrows to less than 1%. However, as the article points out, “These numbers do not show that the labour market is free of sex discrimination”. The analysis (taken from work done by consultancy Korn Ferry) clearly demonstrates that the differential is less driven by women and men being paid differently for the same role, and more to do with women being over-represented in low-paying jobs, companies and sectors.

So what does this mean for publishing?  Unfortunately, we don’t have enough sector-specific information to really understand what is driving the 16% gap since no publisher has put their gender pay data onto the government portal thus far. For me, one of the most interesting bits of data to look out for will be the proportion of men and women in each quartile of the pay range; I’m taking an educated guess that we’ll see way more than 50% women in the lowest-paid quartile, and much smaller representation in the highest-paid.

I’d love to be proved wrong, but until the data is out there we can only make assumptions based on what we do know, and what wider cross-industry pay data tells us. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this as the Salary Survey results come out (and, as an aside, massive respect to the lovely folk at www.bookcareers.com for putting in the long hours in to gather, validate and analyse this massively important data) and as the deadline for disclosing pay gets nearer. In common with most people I know, we would rather have clarity and transparency on this so we can understand the problem and help to be part of the solution, than be kept in the dark and left feeling our employers have something to hide. People work in publishing for all sorts of reasons and often pay is not the primary motivator. Employees value that publishing is a family-friendly industry; that is presents interesting intellectual challenges; and that it is populated with great, creative, committed people. Pay is only ever a part of the package. But it is a part, and we’d like to know how fairly we are all being treated.