HR · 22 August 2019

Female entrepreneurship and supporting equality

It is an obvious statement but people in business should be paid and promoted based on their ability, performance and experience and not due to their gender. Forging my way as a female business owner and working in the field of Law, I sadly have come to realise that inequality is still prevalent in the workplace. It’s time to lay down some basics for anyone who needs a refresher on equality legislation.

It is unlawful to discriminate against an employee, no matter what their position,  gender, age or sexual orientation.

There are two crucial acts you as a business owner should comply with

  • The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information)
  • Regulations 2017 (the Regulations)

The UK still has pay gap issues

Does your business have a gender divide?

The UK has one of the highest gender pay gaps in Europe, recording the fourth biggest difference in median pay between men and women in the EU in 2016 (Eurostat 2018).

The gender pay gap in the UK is currently estimated at 17% (PwC), with median weekly pay for women estimated at £494 in April 2017, compared to £592 for men.

You may remember in April 2018, the government introduced legislation to help tackle the gender pay gap. This required all UK employers with at least 250 employees to publish information about the differences in pay between men and women in their workforce.

Large disparities were revealed, notably that of the BBC, of which all of the top 10 highest paid presenters were men. This prompted widescale public debate.

 The proof is in the pudding

The UK has one of the highest gender pay gaps in Europe.

Often we forget the divide the still exists between males and females in the corporate environment, but women receive less than half the annual bonus that a man receives at £3,726 compared with £7,496.

May I also remind you that women only occupy 35% of senior management roles compared with 65% men.

But companies that have a favoured a female-led workforce have seen…

  1. 66% higher return on invested capital
  2. 53% higher return on equity
  3. 42% higher return on sales

As an employer, you shouldn’t need to see these high power statistics as these an incentive to employ women. The culture needs to change whereby employing a female in a dominant role is not seen as a risky choice.

 Ensure your management practices follow this principle

Is your company up to date with inclusive employee laws?

Diversity and inclusion are rising up the agenda in many organisations ethos. However, it still feels like the pace of progress towards realising equality of opportunity is still painfully slow.

It is important as an employer to be aware of the Equality Act 2010 It protects people from discrimination in the workplace and having knowledge of the key provisions can help you ensure your company is in check.

The act provides a basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

As a business owner, knowledge of this act is imperative so that you can ensure your company is compliant. While it is now legally required to be inclusive and diverse, as an employer you should strive to hire people because you see potential and progression in them –  not out of the fear of being labelled as discriminatory.

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Karen Holden is an award-winning solicitor and founder of A City Law Firm (ACLF), the go-to lawyers for entrepreneurs, startups, scale-ups, those seeking investment. In addition to being very successful lawyers for businesses , ICOs and family law, ACLF are now the UK's leading LGBT law firm and surrogacy specialists. Karen is a regular media commentator, panellist and event speaker.

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