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Mind the 44% gap

March 16, 2019 6:00 AM

Rachel Dineley

Rachel Dineley, our Diversity Officer, writes:

Shockingly, as we press for greater diversity ,inclusion and equality in the prosperous Chilterns, there is still a 44% gap in pay between men and women.

The Office for National Statistics has published figures which bring home the disparity between men and women's pay. In the Chiltern District in 2018, the median gross weekly pay of full-time male workers was £856.40, but for fulltime female workers it was just £594.40. A difference of £260 a week and some £13,500 over a year. Put another way, men get paid 44% more than women.

A Chiltern and South Bucks Councils' gender pay gap report in 2017 noted that 34.7% of their combined workforce was male and 65.3% female.

It is 2019 and we still see multiple forms of discrimination at work. Not enough women are employed, particularly in senior and well paid roles, and efforts to remedy this over time have so far shown little sign of success. Our society and economy will be richer if we can diversify, as we should, both in terms of gender and ethnicity.

The causes of the disparity are complex and deep-rooted . It will take a concerted effort over some years to ensure that women and ethnic minorities to 'catch up', and then maintain parity with their white male colleagues in the jobs they do and their pay. It's a challenge we can all take up and should not shrink from.

At least in areas which local Councils can control, those efforts must be stepped up. With the arrival of a unitary authority in 2020, Councillors must demand and people should expect real progress on this front.

It will present an opportunity for a fresh start and new approaches: we should press for practical action that will render worthwhile and measurable results.

On a broader basis, the Chiltern branch of the Liberal Democrats are keen to develop an apolitical and community-wide dialogue to increase our understanding of unconscious bias, how we can spot identify it in ourselves (because it is a human condition, common to us all) and overcome it, to achieve greater inclusivity in our community. There has never been a better time to tackle it. For more detail, see our Diversity & Inclusion page.