Some in the sector need a big shove on gender equality

08.03.2018

On International Women’s Day, Barbara Spicer writes about her anger that we have a long way to go to achieve gender equality in the housing sector

We deliberately decided to publish our first gender pay gap report on International Women’s Day; it seemed the obvious thing to do.

And to be honest we’re not doing too badly at Plus Dane. If you take the mean hourly rate pay differential, it shows that women are 0.48% higher than men.

We even out relatively well when you look at the other measures, but its certainly not all rosy – at the lower middle quartile we only employ 41% women whereas at the upper it rises to 62.5%.

And in trades it’s still a depressingly low employment rate for women of 13%; a figure we’re not obliged to publish but something I’d like to see all associations committing to.

It’s important to point out that while we are pleased these figures don’t expose specific gender bias, they are not what we aspire to – we want a balanced workforce where both sexes are equally encouraged at every level of the organisation and in every job role.

Which in turn is only one dimension of the diversity we seek… but this is for #IWD2018 so I’ll leave the others for different debates, quite properly being promulgated by Inside Housing.

I think the calling out of us all on these figures has proved to be a really good thing, because it exposed massive pay differentials within, among others, the BBC and refocused our attention on numbers of women in boardrooms and senior positions.

Ask yourselves a few things; did you let that comment go because you know the guy saying it is a good guy really, and you’re sure he didn’t mean it?

But it has also ignited a modern anger about the things that continue to happen across all sectors, with far too many people choosing to selectively ignore them; whether that’s the obvious corporate events where women are still used as a commodity to be traded for business favours, to those of us quietly ‘letting go’ of everyday sexism.

I’m sure I will hear a cry from my colleagues across the sector that we simply don’t participate in the first type of event… so what about the second?

This is a direct challenge to all readers – ask yourselves a few things; did you let that comment go because you know the guy saying it is a good guy really, and you’re sure he didn’t mean it?