There is now less than a month to go until the deadline when all private and public sector companies employing over 250 people must publish their gender pay gap data.
And with today (Thursday 8 March) being International Women’s Day, it also marks the date from when the average woman starts getting paid, compared to the average man. According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), women effectively work for free for 67 days of the year because of the gender pay gap.
The gender pay gap reporting legislation is expected to impact approximately 9,000 companies across the UK. Yet with less than a month remaining until the deadline (5 April), approximately only 1,400 have published their figures.
And new findings released this week by jobs board totaljobs suggest that not only are businesses being tardy in declaring the extent of their pay inequality, but they are still using language likely to undermine future efforts to close the gender pay gap.
The firm analysed almost 77,000 jobs posted to UK recruitment websites over a six-week period. The study found that 87% of the jobs posted contained ‘gender-coded’ language, defined as terms likely to skew the likely applicants for the role based on their gender. The study applied linguistic analysis from the University of Waterloo and Duke University, which identified a series of masculine and feminine words that unconsciously serve to uphold gender stereotypes in both recruitment and employment.
For example, roles using words such as ‘lead’, ‘analyse’ and ‘compete’ are masculine-coded and so will serve to skew a search towards male candidates. Similarly, employment stereotyping has lead female candidates to be attracted to words such as ‘support’, ‘respond’ and ‘understand’ which were the three most common female-coded words.
This use of gender-coded language is significant as businesses are unwittingly undermining their search for the best talent by using language likely to reinforce existing workplace stereotypes. This entrenched use of coded language has likely also contributed to the gender pay gap. In April 2017, the gender pay gap stood at 18.4% for workers who are paid by the hour and remains at 9.1% for full-time workers in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.
If this biased language can be identified and removed, there is evidence that job adverts can attract a greater number of candidates.
David Clift, HR director at totaljobs, said: “The 5 April 2018 will be a landmark date in how we view workplace gender roles in the UK. The publication of gender pay gap data will mark the beginning of the end of the entrenched inequality that has dogged UK industry for decades.
“While this is to be welcomed, today’s study shows that this is just part of the solution. It is clear that recruiters are unconsciously guilty of biasing their search for the best talent by using phrases that only serve to reiterate gender stereotypes in the workplace.
“Not only has this unconscious bias likely perpetuated the gender pay gap, it has also undermined many businesses’ hunt for the very best talent. We hope that by shining a light on this issue, employers will place a renewed focus on driving equal opportunities within their recruitment policies, as well as how they remunerate their staff.”