Today March 8th 2017 marks International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day is a global day of celebration that marks the struggle for gender equality. It provides a forum for celebrating the role of women and their achievements, identifies challenges for the future and campaigns for change.
We know that one of the greatest challenges to gender equality is the gender pay gap. Despite the equal pay act 47 years ago, women, on average, still earn less than men in the UK today. We at Leicester were reported, along with other Universities, as having a significant gender pay gap in 2016.
The backdrop to the UK gender pay gap is rooted in unequal caring responsibilities, a divided labour market and more men in the most senior roles. We know that as a University that values equality and as a responsible employer we need to be doing more to address these challenges.
Addressing this gap is a priority for us. Simply waiting for this problem to rectify itself would take 39 years. So prior to the report’s publication we had already commissioned a review to identify what we could do to address this.
As the President and Vice-Chancellor set out in an article for the BBC last year, we have a target for a 1.5% increase each year in women professors, with the aim of having 30% of professorships held by women by 2020. Alongside that we are making other changes.
We welcome the introduction of shared parental leave and have a generous parental leave policy. We know that over 60% of those earning less than the living wage are women and so we are proud to be a living wage employer. Our posts are advertised as flexible, part-time or job share unless there is a strong business case not to. We are working hard to support women’s progression to more senior roles, including targeted leadership courses and programmes of coaching and mentoring.
We have fundamentally transformed our approach to academic careers and academic promotion by highlighting the broad range of valued contributions and achievements, recognising that women’s cases for promotion may include significant contributions to academic citizenship, collaboration and teamwork, central to our university mission and taking into account periods away from the workplace (such as maternity and adoption leave). It is well documented that achieving and maintaining equal pay requires a fair and transparent simple pay system. We have a transparent single pay and grading structure based on systematic job evaluations from grades 1-9.
We recognise and are addressing a number of key areas where we can make improvements. These include: a transparent senior pay structure (grade 10+); providing training for all staff who make pay related decisions and consistent application of guidance in responding to market forces which play a role in setting rates of pay to competitively recruit and retain employees.
We look forward to the requirement to publish our gender pay gap data annually, and will report our data but also continue to set out realistic and measurable actions to ensure timely progression.
Our clear aspiration is to address the gender pay gap but we recognise the journey and pace of change is slow. We are grateful that our staff and students recognise the challenges we face and offer important feedback as we strive to take meaningful action.
Kate Bradley – Director of Human Resources
Dr Kate Williams
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