Embracing flexible work to bridge the Gender Pay Gap this Equal Pay Day
November 22, 2023, marks a significant yet sobering milestone: Equal Pay Day in the UK. This day marks the point at which women, due to the persistent gender pay gap, essentially stop earning relative to men for the rest of the year. The reality is that, on average, women in the UK earn £574 less per month than their male counterparts, amounting to a yearly deficit of £6,888.
The current trajectory is disheartening, with projections indicating that the gender pay gap won’t close until 2051. For many women in the workforce, that means the gap may never close in their working lifetime.
In response to this ongoing challenge, the Fawcett Society has highlighted the need to harness flexible work to bridge the gender pay gap. Their research shows that 40% of women not currently in the workforce would return to work if flexible options were available, compared to 32% of men in the same situation. However, access to flexible work is uneven, with women more likely to be in part-time roles and men having greater access to desirable flexible arrangements.
Technology has been key in enabling widespread flexible working. Communication platforms and video conferencing tools we are all familiar with have reduced barriers and facilitated hybrid and remote working, and new innovations in these platforms – such as the integration of AI – are set to further reduce the frictions of asynchronous work. But tech can also help leaders manage dynamic workforces, empower staff in managing their own schedules, and facilitate other flexible work arrangements like job shares and compressed hours too.
The pandemic has reshaped work cultures, especially in sectors like finance and IT, where remote and hybrid work models have become more common. This shift has particularly benefitted professional women and mothers in these sectors, evidenced by a significant increase in full-time employment. However, according to Timewise, although 63% of UK employees work flexibly already, fewer than 1 in 10 job adverts offer flexible working as an employee benefit. And candidates who need flexible working are reluctant to apply for roles that don’t mention it.
techUK has called for government and businesses to ensure that workers have a right to request flexible work on day one – noting a lack of secondary legislation to realise this commitment – because flexible work isn't just a solution for the gender pay gap; it offers broader benefits, particularly for other underrepresented groups. Not only do employees increasingly value flexibility over other benefits or even a pay raise, but flexible work also opens up businesses to recruit from wider talent pools, enhance diversity and, in turn, address skill gaps.
The future of work is flexible. Businesses, policymakers, and society at large must seize the moment to embrace flexible work – and enable women across the country to access more high-quality and well-paid flexible jobs.
Women in Tech March 2023
techUK is marching forward to close the tech gender gap in 2023. Throughout March, coinciding with International Women’s Day (IWD 2023) we explored how we embrace equitable workplaces. The UN’s theme for IWD 2023 focuses on Digital for All or DigitALL, and we are proud to support this.