Students Staff
University of Essex

March 15, 2019

We remain impatient for change

Susie Morgan

Susie Morgan, Director of Human Resources

Susie Morgan, our Director of Human Resources, tells us more about our ongoing work to close the gender pay gap.

The Government requirement for all UK employers with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap data reflects the importance of fair pay for women, both nationally and for the University. In an article in the Times Higher following the publication of the first national data on fair pay, our Vice-Chancellor said that we must resist attempts to explain away the gender pay gap. This remains the case after the second year of data has been published.

The gender pay gap is the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across an organisation. This should not be confused with equal pay for work of equal value, which is the pay women and men receive for doing the same or similar work. In relation to equal pay for work of equal value we have no significant pay gaps at any grade across the University. However, in relation to the gender pay gap, whilst we have seen a 7.2% reduction in the overall mean gap between 2013 and 2018, and in the last 12 months a further reduction of 1% on the 2017 figure, it is still too high. The median gender pay gap also remains unacceptably high at 18.6%, the same as in the last reporting period.

We have made some progress in increasing the proportion of female professors, which is 8.4% above the sector average. There has also been a 2.1% increase in the proportion of women in the highest pay quartile between 2017 and 2018. The proportion of women in grades 9, 10 and 11 increased from 42.1% to 43.9% in the year from March 2017 to March 2018 and there has been a 4.4% increase in the proportion of female academic staff over the last five years to 44.4%. This is all good news, but our progress is too slow and we remain impatient for change. So, what are we doing to close these gaps?

All departments are now engaged in Athena SWAN and we are extending this to Professional Services sections. This means that across the whole of the University, conversations about gender equality/inequality are taking place and staff are implementing actions to close the gender pay gap. In the latter part of 2018 we put in place a robust system to monitor completion of essential training (a policy introduced in 2017), with reminders going to individuals and reporting managers. Although completion rates have risen by 18% to 46% since the policy was introduced, they are still unacceptably low. Essential training is important as it helps to ensure that across the University, our decision-making practices are aligned to our commitment to transparency, natural justice in the workplace and – very importantly in this context, the avoidance of bias.

We are continuing to use positive action statements in all recruitment material, embedding unconscious bias training, running academic promotion workshops, engaging with informal networks, encouraging flexible working and we have put in place robust processes to manage any variations in salary. Our gender pay gap report outlines our other actions.

The eradication of the gender pay gap is a critical measure of our success in living by our values, and every member of the University can be involved in helping achieve this. If you have a particular interest or are conducting research in this area or have ideas to help with this work, we would be very pleased to hear from you at
diversity@essex.ac.uk.

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