The University of Birmingham has now released its Gender Pay gap data for 2018/19.
The overall gender pay gap has reduced slightly, falling from 19.9% (mean) in 2017/18 to 19.4% (mean) in 2018/19, while the bonus gender pay gap has reduced from 66% (mean) to 62.9% (mean). This means that still women at UoB are paid £4.13 less per hour than men (£17.16 vs £21.29), and receive £ 3761.89 less than men for bonus payments (£2,217.23 versus £5,979.12).
The UoB is far behind from closing the gender pay gap, a demand that has been systematically raised by the union in our UoB Joint Unions Report 2018.
The University continues to have the third highest gender pay gap and difference in hourly pay among the Russell (behind QUB, Glasgow and Edinburgh) and the very slight overall improvements lag behind improvements being made across the rest of the sector .
Women are still underrepresented in senior positions, despite UoB focus on this area in last year’s strategy and their recognition in this year’s report that “the primary reason that has been identified for us [as causing the gender pay gap] is the underrepresentation of women at senior levels within the University.” Despite this being the main focus of their strategy, in 2018/19 the proportion of women in the top pay quartile has actually fallen from 37.3% to 37%, which might not seem like much change, but leaves UoB out of sync and behind when compared against the Russell Group .
Among the reported actions undertaken by the UoB to reduce its gender pay are:
- Family friendly policies: extending the suite of policies to support working parents; have two workplace nurseries and in 2018 opening a third nursery one.
- Equality action plans: institutional Equality Scheme; each College-level actions to increase the number of women in senior positions.
- Consultation: members of Senior Women’s Network contributed as experts and critical friends in developing positive action strategy.
While welcome, these measures fall well short of the list of actions we put forward, and are not capable of significantly reducing the gender pay gap or wider pay inequality. In particular, the current UoB strategy does nothing to address very low pay among the lower pay grades, posts largely held by women and migrant workers. We note that this is the subject of industrial action by our sister union, UNISON, representing support staff who are demanding a better pay deal for these groups.
Unions’ demand more effective and targeted actions. These include:
- Provide properly subsidised childcare for all staff by 2020: 52 weeks of childcare for children of nursery age to all staff, capped at a total cost of 10% of annual salary, via an accredited workplace nursery scheme; nurseries should be exempt from generating surpluses; provide an on-campus crèche or soft play-area for children, making campus more parent-child friendly.
- Commit to re-writing the flexible working policy: guarantee that caring responsibilities will be properly and consistently considered when staff submit flexible working requests, and to acknowledge that discriminating against carers is an equality issue; implement an independent appeals process for flexible working and allow any potentially discriminatory actions to be dealt with through the grievance process. Even though, we are all carers at some point in our lives, the burden of care falls particularly on women. Our casework has shown a consistent unwillingness on the part of the University to consider caring responsibilities when considering flexible working requests.
- Commit to working with the unions to implement a comprehensive domestic violence and harassment policy: UNISON has drafted a model domestic violence and harassment policy and we call on the University to work with us to see it implemented here. The aim in developing an effective policy on domestic violence/abuse and stalking is to create a workplace where the dignity and safety of our colleagues are respected.
- Ensure a minimum of 50% quotas for women or non-binary panel members on all appointment and promotion panels: The gender pay gap exists also because women are denied the same opportunities as men. Women can make up most of the staff membership, and yet receive a collective pay package lower than men’s because they are disproportionately employed on lower grades.