Just watched Trevor Phillips on Andrew Marr saying that tomorrow the Equality Commission are going to publish (finally) their report into unequal pay in the financial services sector – and ‘it’s shocking’! No kidding? We know that – so presumably it’s even worse than we thought and women are not only getting unequal pay and unequal bonuses (setting aside the issue of size of bonus momentarily) but the differential will be staggering. So much so – that the Equality Commission says that if the City doesn’t come to heel – they will have to use their statutory powers. Oooooooh! Warm wards indeed.
And yet – the biggest flunk this century in terms of ending pay inequality comes from the Equality Commission itself who rant on about the importance of the Equality Bill currently going through Parliament yet failed to do anything really significant on women’s pay in the Bill. In the Bill was / is the opportunity to make all companies publish their pay scales and value male and female jobs.
The Equality Commission, clearly in cahoots with the Labour Government and running scared of the CBI, refuses to endorse mandatory pay audits saying that they will leave publication and valuation as a voluntary code for four years and then if the private sector continue on the naughty step – only then will they make it mandatory. (Forty years ago when the Equal Pay Act came in – the then Government gave business five years to get its house in order – and we are still waiting!) And whilst the Equality Commission chief equivocates his remarks by saying how hard the city is trying – it doesn’t mask what is obviously going to be a damning indictment of the lack of success it has had in so doing.
Surely what we will see tomorrow is a clarion call for all sides of the House of Commons at the Report Stage of the Bill to introduce mandatory pay audits. It was a LibDem amendment at committee stage and will be again at Report Stage. So I expect the Equality Commission to put its clout where its mouth is. It cannot be right that the Commission can investigate the financial sector – which means looking at pay scales and work value – find it to be hideously biased in its pay practise – but then draw back from supporting legislation which will make all companies publish and therefore put power into individuals to see whether they are being discriminated against to take a case forward.
I asked the Commission to look into another sector a while ago – and was told that they couldn’t because they were busy conducting the investigations into the financial sector. Equality shouldn’t have to wait until the Commission has time and resource to investigate. They cannot do everything – so give us the information to see and do for ourselves!