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Gender Pay Gap - are women really being discriminated against?

I have just read an article by the Prime Minister in the Telegraph. In it she talks passionately about the gender pay gap. She even ends her article by saying:

"It seems extraordinary to us that women 100 years ago were not only denied the right to vote but had to fight so hard for it. It is our job to make sure that it doesn’t take another 100 years for the gender pay gap to become a thing of the past."

Let's be clear. It is illegal to pay someone less for doing the same or similar jobs. I am not going to get into the argument that presenting the Today programme is doing the same work and that John Humphrys should be paid the same as other presenters. Experience does count for a lot, and an experienced employee is always going to be more valuable to an employer than someone relatively inexperienced. 

When you look at the gender pay gap figures for EasyJet, you could be forgiven for thinking that the company was discriminating against its female employees. Not so. Have a read of this from Kate Andrews at the Institute of Economic Affairs:

EasyJet, a British low-cost carrier airline, reported its mean hourly pay gap as 51.7% in January 2018. The figure alone has led to the assumption of sex discrimination within the company. However, the breakdown of the pay gap reveals a different story.

EasyJet’s cabin crew account of the majority of jobs within the organisation; of these roles, 2,002 (69%) are held by women, on an average salary of £24,800 per annum. In comparison, EasyJet pilots account for 26% of the jobs within the organisation, of which 86 jobs (roughly 6%) are held by women, on an average salary of £92,400 per year.

When comparing male and female cabin crew and male and female pilots in their respective roles, EasyJet reports that women earn 100% of what their male equivalents earn. It is the high number of women employed within the company as cabin crew, and the relatively small number of women employed as pilots, which accounts for the headline pay gap figure of 51.7%.

There’s more. The percentage of EasyJet female pilots is roughly the same as the percentage of female pilots registered in Britain and 3 percentage points higher than the figure worldwide.

EasyJet’s Amy Johnson Initiative has set a “target that 20% of new entrant cadet pilots recruited by easyJet in 2020 are female”. But even now, the company employs a higher percentage of female pilots than the industry average

Bearing in mind that the Prime Minster wants any form of gender pay gap a thing of the past, I thought I would take a look at the cabinet. There are 23 full members of the cabinet. (Another 6 attend cabinet) Out of the 23, Brandon Lewis is unpaid, which leaves us with a total of 22 including the Prime Minister. 

The total salary bill (excluding MPs' salaries) is £1,526,578. Women account for just £446,498 - 29.2 per cent of the salary bill. If there wasn't a gender pay gap in the cabinet, women should be earning £763,289 - half of what the men earn. Instead they are paid £316,791 less - 41.5% of that figure - a gender pay gap of 58.5%. 

Ah, but there are fewer female MPs to choose from, some will say. It is an unfair comparison. You should promote on merit. We do have a female Prime Minister, which proves that women can get to the top. 

I agree with all of those statements, but the same can be said for EasyJet. Very few women have a pilot's licence. The vast majority are men. Therefore it is an unfair comparison. There is no indication that EastJet is not promoting on merit. It doesn't have a female CEO, but once again there is no indication that EasyJet discriminates against women. 

We at The Freedom Association believe in equality of opportunity. You should not be discriminated against because of your gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, religion, etc. It seems appropriate today, the 50th anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King Jr, to quote his famous words, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." We have progressed a long way since that speech was delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on 28 August 1963, and the world is a better place for it. And we no longer formally discriminate against women, LGBT people, the disabled, and those who follow a different religion to Christianity. 

By all means call out those employers who are breaking the law. That's right and proper. But the figures we are reading today and will no doubt be discussing for weeks to come, are pretty meaningless. They don't paint the full picture. 

Theresa May should be concentrating on the real problems facing this country rather than fabricating problems that largely don't exist. 


Photo Credit: The Blue Diamond Gallery 

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