New research conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has indicated that closing Scotland’s 15% gender pay gap would lead to a £6.5 billion increase in earnings for female workers. This would amount to around £5300 per head- an 18% increase.
These figures were uncovered as part of PwC’s Women in Work research, during which the company has been evaluating levels of female economic empowerment across 33 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Increased female employment rates, a decrease in the gender pay gap, and a smaller gap between male and female labour force participation rates have improved the UK’s performance as a whole. The UK now ranks 13th for female economic empowerment out of the 33 nations.
Although Scotland’s gender pay gap figure is 2% lower than the UK average, it still falls behind the UK's leader, Northern Ireland, standing at 6%. The biggest contributing factor to the gap was found to be the disproportionate number of women in lower paid sectors and professions in comparison to men.
PwC’s Matthew Cooper gave comment on the findings in relation to Scotland, stating "While it is encouraging to see that the gender pay gap in Scotland is at 15%, there remains work to do with specific challenges in some of Scotland’s key industries such as financial services and oil and gas where the gender pay gap remains higher.
"The increased focus on pay gap reporting gives employers the opportunity to set out the actions they are taking to address the pay gap as well as their wider strategy on diversity and inclusion. Taking accountability and delivering changes is what is needed from Scottish employers to continue the process toward removing gender pay inequality."
The Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Fair Work and Jobs Committee has recently begun an inquiry into the impact of equal pay in Scotland, and will evaluate whether taking steps to close it could help improve business performance. However, PwC believes that it could take until the year 2040 to close the gap entirely.
Jackie Bailie of the Scottish Labour party was critical of the SNP government’s approach towards the gender pay gap. She commented, "It’s disappointing that the gap between what men and women in Scotland get paid remains so wide.
We may have a female First Minister in Scotland but that doesn’t appear to be making much difference. SNP ministers need to come forward with a clear plan."
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