We have prepared an FAQ, where you can learn more about the gender pay gap, the potential of our campaign, the benefits to companies of dropping salary history questions and alternative ways to negotiate. You may find this page useful to direct your colleagues and contacts to if they have any questions after reading our Research page.
The gender pay gap
Why are you campaigning on the gender pay gap and not other things, like women's safety or how women are treated in other countries?
No country in the world treats its women as well as its men. Discrimination against women takes many forms. We believe that it is all connected and it is not helpful to compare campaigns as we are all fellow travellers on the road to equality. For example, the gender pay gap has been linked to poorer health for women and is a factor that keeps many women in abusive relationships.
Isn't it just that we make different choices? That women are more likely to prefer and choose jobs that are lower paid, whereas men are more suited to sectors which are higher paid?
We do not make choices in a vacuum. Caring is still seen as women’s work and earning money as a man’s contribution. This feeds through in the stereotypes which start influencing us in childhood, where girls are given dolls to play with and lead to women being funnelled and encouraged into certain types of roles seen as more ‘feminine,’ ‘nurturing,’ or ‘caring.’ We don’t ask enough questions about why jobs which are typically dominated by women, such as care work or teaching, tend to be lower paid than jobs typically dominated by men, such as finance. Society also pushes unpaid care and domestic work onto women, and does not have the same expectations of men to do chores, or care for their children and older family members.
This animation by the Women’s Budget Group shows how many forms of economic inequality are structural and reinforce each other.
What causes the gender pay gap?
Many things contribute to the gender pay gap. Women are under-represented in senior, highly-paid roles, which tend to go to men, and are more likely to work in lower-paid roles. We are also more likely to shoulder the burden of unpaid care work, which reduces our ability to work full-time and delays career progression, especially at certain points in our life.
Is the gender pay gap improving?
In 2021, the pay gap got worse. The pay gap for full-time workers is currently 11.9%, up almost 1% from 10.6% the year before. The pay gap for all workers, full- and part-time, is 14.9%, up from 13.9% the year before.
Is it only women who are affected?
An ethnicity pay gap also exists. In 2019, BAME* workers were paid an average of 2.3% less than White workers in the UK, ranging from a 23% disparity in London to a 1.4% disparity in Wales. We have chosen an action that has been proven to reduce both ethnic and gender pay disparities.
How is asking this question contributing to the gender pay gap, if it is asked of both men and women?
Women are more likely to have been historically underpaid, particularly if they have taken career breaks to care for others. Negotiation allows biases, conscious and unconscious, to creep in, and there is evidence that women are as likely to ask for pay rises as men but less likely to receive them, and that women perceived as strong negotiators often face a backlash.
We have other policies in place do ensure we don't discriminate. Why do we need this one?
By pinning your offer to a candidate’s previous salary, you risk inheriting any discrimination they may have experienced elsewhere, and undermining your other equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives.
How is asking for salary history detrimental to my company?
This practice damages trust. Our data show that 54% of men and 57% of women feel less positive about their potential employer when asked about their salary history, and 58% of women and 54% of men felt that they got a lower offer due to this question.
How can companies fairly decide what salary to offer?
Companies have a number of methods available to them to decide the salary they are willing to offer a candidate.
Will companies lose negotiating power, and therefore money, if they stop using salary history to negotiate?
While knowing a candidate’s previous salary may seem like a strong negotiating tool, verifying the information they give you is time-consuming, and our data revealed that four in ten (39%) of candidates have lied in response to this question.
What else can a company negotiate with?
Companies can negotiate within the salary bracket they are offering, and also offer non-financial incentives such as the package (stock options, learning and development budget, holidays…) or working conditions (flexible hours, working remotely).
What else can be done, from a hiring perspective, to reduce the gender pay gap?
What should I do if I am asked this question?
You should not be dishonest, particularly as a new employer could get this information from your P45. The standard advice is to place a dash in an online form and to turn the question back on the interviewer by asking them what salary they expect to offer for the role. Remain calm, firm, polite and persistent.
Why did you decide to campaign to #EndSalaryHistory?
We analysed the entire recruitment process and discovered that this one question disproportionately contributes to the gender pay gap. Ending salary history is a simple, specific action that can be taken, and there is evidence that it works.
How will the pledge help?
Pledging to End Salary History shows that your company is serious about equality. It also helps to bring change on the ground straight away and build momentum for wider change nationally, and it is easier to make the case for law change when we can showcase that companies are supportive of the campaign.
How will the petition help?
Our long-term goal is legislation. A petition to parliament is an important first step. Any individual over 18 with a UK postcode is eligible to sign our petition.
Can I get involved?
Absolutely! We are a friendly bunch and always keen to hear new ideas and experiences, and welcome anyone eager to make a positive contribution towards the fight for gender equality. We will try to find a way for you to help based on your interests and availability, but with no pressure - we are all volunteers, after all.