The Scalpel's Blog

08.03.18

International Women’s Day: time for change in gender pay

Dean Royles, director of human resources and organisational development at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, analyses the latest gender pay gap report released by trusts in Yorkshire.

Today, 8 March, is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

It is also the day a number of NHS trusts in Yorkshire have chosen to publish their gender pay gaps. They show a range of pay gaps between 7% and 33%. This will be broadly in line with the rest of the NHS and varies depending on the type of trust reporting.

It’s not appropriate to talk down gender pay gaps. They exist in the vast majority of organisations and we must confront them. The benefits of publishing pay gaps is to create a debate on the reasons for gaps and to highlight what organisations can do to reduce them. To some extent this debate has started, but what has been missing is an important focus on the responsibility we have as a society to emphasise the inherent structural issues that exist. A society that views roles that are predominantly taken up by women in areas such as a caring and childcare as less valuable than male-dominated roles. Without addressing these societal challenges, progress on narrowing the gender pay gap will be slower than any of us want.

The NHS can rightly boast of significant progress when it comes to gender equality in the workplace:

  • 41% of chief executives are women;
  • 46% of very senior managers are women;
  • 45% of the medical workforce are women, with 35% of consultants being women (with 53% of doctors in training now women, the gap will continue to close);
  • 52% of GPs are women.

But there are still outliers: whilst 75% of HR directors are women, this is only 25% for finance directors and 25% for medical directors. 

Even so, these statistics for women in senior leadership positions far outstrip any progress made in FTSE100 companies.

The NHS has an equal pay system where pay for work of equal value is recognised; for example, a male nurse and female nurse entering nursing with some qualifications and experience are paid the same pay scale.

However, it is still possible, indeed probable, that organisations can have absolute pay equality and still have a significant gender pay gap.

The gender pay gap is calculated as the average pay of all the men in an organisation compared to the average pay of all the women. With approximately 80% of the NHS workforce being women and because there is a more equal gender split of higher-paid staff such as doctors, the average earnings for women overall is significantly lower, despite the fact that a man and a woman doing the same job are on the same pay grade.

To close the gender pay gap, organisations can of course be more responsive to flexible working, recognising the challenges of pursuing a career when working part-time and creating a culture that more effectively role models women in senior positions. But to narrow and close the gap will require significant societal changes, for example viewing caring roles (some of the most important roles in our communities) as predominantly undertaken by women. With approximately 60% of women in the highest quartile of earnings, the gender pay gap in the NHS is as much a feature of low pay as it is about inequality in high pay.

It is right that transparency on gender pay accelerates action in large employers, but we miss a generational opportunity if, on International Women’s Day, we don’t highlight the attitudes and beliefs that our society needs to change if we are to see genuine gender pay parity and highlight the importance of addressing low pay.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

NHSI and NHSE merger plans mark ‘profound shift’ in management – with potentially big risks

25/05/2018NHSI and NHSE merger plans mark ‘profound shift’ in management – with potentially big risks

NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSI) have announced plans to work closer together by establishing a new NHS Executive Group and an NHS Assembly... more >
Some providers and CCGs still unable to plan within financial limits

25/05/2018Some providers and CCGs still unable to plan within financial limits

Some NHS organisations were unable to produce an operational plan that stays within their designated financial control totals and will require fu... more >
Four more STPs handpicked to become integrated care systems

24/05/2018Four more STPs handpicked to become integrated care systems

NHS Improvement (NHSI) has selected four more sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) to join the ongoing integrated care system (I... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now beyond doubt or dispute, other than in government, that the NHS is inadequately funded. Even the secretary of state has argued that it will need more mon... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

Data sharing to improve care: the GP potential

18/05/2018Data sharing to improve care: the GP potential

As sharing data across organisations becomes the norm in the NHS, will general practice embrace its potential to improve the care we deliver to patients? Rebecca Fisher, a GP and policy fellow at the Health Foundation, investigates. “I just assumed your computers talked to each other” is a phrase not infrequently heard in my g... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >
332 304x150 NHE Callout banner.

comment

The NHS is at a crossroads, on a precarious path to a future yet unknown

11/05/2018The NHS is at a crossroads, on a precarious path to a future yet unknown

Niall Dickson CBE, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, gives NHE readers an exclusive preview of what to expect at this year’s editio... more >
A different kind of medicine

02/05/2018A different kind of medicine

Could literature improve the quality of life of those with mental health conditions? According to Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader,... more >
Is the NHS ready for another WannaCry?

02/05/2018Is the NHS ready for another WannaCry?

NHE’s Seamus McDonnell on the plans put in place to protect trusts and other NHS organisations from potential future cyber-attacks. In... more >
Janet Davies: Our future workforce

02/05/2018Janet Davies: Our future workforce

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), says ministers must accelerate progress to make nursin... more >

health service focus

View all News

interviews

Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >