31 January 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Many women don't negotiate their pay when applying for jobs, new research has shown.
The fear of being 'rude' or 'ungrateful', compounded by concerns that challenging pay could jeopardise benefits (21 per cent) such as maternity leave or flexible working is silencing women when it comes to money.
The latest research into equal pay by employment law specialists Slater and Gordon found half of female workers believe they are being underpaid and 82 per cent not actually negotiating their salary.
Yet nearly three quarters of those (71 per cent) admit they have not challenged their boss over the issue.
Once in the workplace, those women that do discuss money with their colleagues (50 per cent), discover their male peers are paid more for similar or lower ranking roles (27 per cent).
Ruby Dinsmore, employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: "There really is a split between the sexes when it comes to negotiating pay, not only when starting employment, but also once they are in employment.
"Men are often far more forceful when it comes to negotiations and much more commercial in their approach, which generally results in higher salaries and better packages.
"As they do this on the way in they are in a stronger position to secure increases to their salary and benefits. Meaning the pay gap between them and their female colleagues doing the same or similar work continues to widen.
"This means women, who may not feel as comfortable asking for more money, are disadvantaged by a system which rewards those willing to engage in negotiation."
Women succeed when they negotiate
Although many of the 1,000 working women surveyed said the prospect of discussing money at work is 'uncomfortable' or 'impolite', research shows their fear is unfounded.
Of those who do enter into negotiations, 70 per cent are successful, receiving some or all of the amount requested.
Despite many women struggling to fight for a pay raise for themselves, they are fierce advocates for colleagues.
Nearly one in five had secured bonuses or raises for female colleagues and nearly half of all women encourage friends and workmates to ask for more money.
One measure often used as an indicator of unequal pay between men and women is the gender pay gap, which in 2018 became compulsory to report for companies with over 250 staff.
The Office for National Statistics puts the UK gender pay gap for full-time employees at 8.9 per cent last year, meaning women are being paid just £380,000 on average over their lifetimes compared with £643,000 for men.
This gender pay gap has only shrunk by half a per cent since 2012.
Gender pay gap reporting does not identify differences in specific roles, the existence of a gap suggests there is likely to be pay inequality. Whilst a gender pay gap is not unlawful, inequality of pay between men and women doing the same or a similar role is.
The most popular reasons women cite for the ongoing divide are men dominating senior roles (35 per cent), unconscious gender bias (17 per cent), women taking time off to raise children (32 per cent) and sexism (30 per cent). Only six per cent put the gap down to women preferring lower paid roles or sectors.
A third believe the way to tackle the pay divide is through proper transparency during the pay, promotion and rewards process to minimise the negotiation imbalance.
Organisations are still learning to communicate about their pay gaps internally. Only a little over 10 per cent knew whether their workplace publishes information on gender pay gap.