The Equality Act came into force on 1st October. This Act is one of many forms of legislation addressing the gender pay gap. The UK has had legislation protecting against the pay gap since the 1970s, but research shows that very little has changed.
Will this Act protect against discrimination based on gender?
According to the Government Equalities Office, women are paid less than men: 21% less in hourly pay and 13% for those working full time. In Finance or IT, full-time women earn less than half of the pay of men in the same positions.
Similarly, a study published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found some shocking patterns in unequal pay. Full-time female employees earn, on average, one fifth of the annual incentive pay (bonuses) of the men in the same sector.
There are many reasons why the pay gap - more like the abyss - in the UK persists: different career ambitions, flexible hours, childcare, job segregation, and many more. However, can these factors still justify the pay gap?
'How Fair is Britain?', the recent compilation of evidence-based discrimination in Britain, found that as Britain becomes more diverse - ethnically and religiously - new forms of inequality are emerging. Women are more likely to go to university than men by a ratio of 4:3 and are more likely to receive a first-class or upper second-class degree, but they tend to pursue courses which lead to poorer paid careers.
Hopefully, this new Act will be the catalyst for real changes in work-based inequality. However, I must pose the question: do we need more regulation, or tangible social change within the workplace?
This inequality causes me to reflect on the link between pay and motivation: can we expect women to be as engaged as their male colleagues if their work isn't valued the same?
While we all deserve the chance to fulfil our potential, we also deserve to be fairly compensated for our time.