OPINION: Paul Taylor, chief executive of FCC Environment, looks at the issue of gender pay in relation to the waste and recycling sector.
Mandatory gender pay reporting – the deadline for which was last month – has revealed in uncomfortable detail how unequal the world of work still is. Despite great strides having been made over the last few decades, the median national salary for women is still 18.4% less than for men. In addition, of the companies who reported their gender pay gaps, just 14% reported in favour of women according to BBC News.
One said sector was waste management. Along with household services and mining (surprisingly enough), these three sectors pay women more than men, resulting in a negative gender pay gap.
Indeed, several waste management companies have reported either no gender pay gap or a negative gender pay gap, resulting in the average woman working within our sector earning 6.9% more than the average man. FCC Environment’s own figures shows the median woman’s hourly rate being 8.2% higher that the median man’s. In other words, every hour our female employees earn £1.08 for every £1 that our male employees earn.
This is encouraging news – but it is a complex and multifaceted issue where headline findings do not reveal the full story. Despite the figures, the reality is that there are still far less women working in the waste sector than men. We need to work to rebalance this trend, and look at how we can encourage more women to consider careers in our industry.
We applaud efforts by the government to bring information surrounding the UK’s gender pay into the light. And yet, there is clearly much more to be done within a national context. Over 1,500 companies failed to report their findings according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and for many of the companies which did report their gender pay gaps, the results were worrying and the accompanying explanations were weak.
“We need to see bold and innovative ideas coming to the fore if we are to genuinely achieve equal opportunities for men and women in the workplace.”Paul Taylor
We need to see bold and innovative ideas coming to the fore if we are to genuinely achieve equal opportunities for men and women in the workplace. For the waste sector, this means fully capitalising on the opportunity to get more women into the sector.
Mandatory reporting requirement has undoubtedly reignited the discussion surrounding gender equality, and has real potential to provoke much-needed change for women in the workplace. UK businesses will have a critical role to play in driving this change, but only if we start to have more meaningful conversations about what the barriers to entry for women to our profession might be and how we as business leaders can help to redress them.