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The Gender Pay Gap – What is it and what does it mean for policing?

First, let me address a misconception which is made less clear by some of the headlines on the subject. The gender pay gap is not the same as equal pay. It is unlawful to pay men and women unequally for the same jobs, similar jobs or work of equal value - it has been since the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

In policing and other public sector occupations, pay scales are generally open and transparent and positions are advertised with a set pay scale. Everyone knows before they apply for a position, role or rank what the pay for that position is, negating most if not all of the commentary about women not being tough enough at negotiating salary.

With the press coverage of how much Hollywood pays female actors or BBC male presenters having to take a pay cut, is it any wonder that many people in policing don’t think this applies to them?

This may be news to you, but it does apply to policing.

The Gender Pay Gap shows the difference in the average pay between all men and women in a workforce. There are a set of six calculations that every employer of more than 250 people must publish, regardless of whether they are public or private sector employers. They must be publicly available on the company’s website as well as being provided to the government for publication.

The Gender Pay Gap is an indicator of what problems might exist, and it should be used by organisations to investigate where there may be barriers to recruitment, progression or retention for women or men in the workplace. Because it is an indicator, it is important to understand that the same pay gap may indicate different barriers in different organisations.

It is not a quick fix and it is certainly not a target to be met, but it is a starting point to investigate what is happening in your own organisation, to ask pertinent questions, seek evidence of what works and drive meaningful activity that makes a real difference.

To use a policing analogy, think of it like an initial incident report you are being deployed to; it will tell you where to go, who to talk to and maybe even what the perceived problem is, but when you get there you still have to ask questions and make sure that what is reported is what is actually happening – sometimes all the information and indicators are correct; sometimes it turns out to be something very different; sometimes you deal with it in a prescribed or well established way; sometimes it will be better served by fresh ideas or a new approach.

Some examples of the changes or ideas elsewhere include incentivising greater sharing of parental leave for men and non child-bearing parents; varying traditional career pathways and timescales to allow women exposure to some roles at a different point in their career; highlighting the research on differences in readiness for promotion between the genders.

The Gender Agenda 3 published by BAWP in 2014 set out recommendations for policing, aimed at national, local and individual level . Research highlights included concerns about the Job Related Fitness Assessment (JRFA) and Direct Entry, the importance of role models, and that women and men with alternative or flexible working arrangements consistently feel undervalued within their roles. Progress has been made on some of the recommendations since the research was completed, but there is still work to be done.

Using the GA3 report alongside your own organisation’s gender pay gap may help identify areas where work is needed, and just as importantly where significant progress has been made. There may be new areas which were not picked up in the 2014 report.

We recommend that you look at your own data, identify a small number of priority areas or actions and work on them. Identifying the effort required and the impact will be key, and if you can pick off and achieve an easy action and have a plan for the area of greatest impact it will be a positive step, even if there is still a lot more work to do.

As the pay gap for policing is published, we will share information, articles, ideas and good practice through our website, membership publication Grapevine and our regional and national networks.
You can make sure you have full and prompt access to all our information and services through individual membership

For further information and reference

Gender Agenda 3 

ACAS Gender Pay Reporting

cmi women blueprint-for-balance

Nikki Butt
Vice President
British Association for Women in Policing

Genda Agenda3 Downloads

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