Equal Pay Day: Companies urged to stop asking about salary history

·2-min read
The PM thinks people should stop working from home and return to offices (PA) (PA Archive)
The PM thinks people should stop working from home and return to offices (PA) (PA Archive)

Companies are being urged to stop asking interviewees about their previous salary over concerns it keeps women earning less than men, a charity has said.

The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, said this practice is particularly pointless in London, where four out of 10 people lie about their previous earnings - the highest proportion of any region in the country.

The group wants employers to stop asking the question to mark Equal Pay Day - the date they say women effectively start to work for free for the rest of the year because, on average, they are paid less than men.

Its annual report also showed the gender pay gap has increased by more than 1 per cent compared to last year.

A survey by the Fawcett Society found while salary questions may be “pointless”, 46 per cent of Londoners have been asked about previous earnings.

Some 62 per cent of Londoners say they would think more highly of an employer who didn’t ask them what they earned, while just one-third of Londoners agree that past pay is a good basis for making wage offers.

The majority of London-based respondents (74 per cent) say job offers should be based on skill and responsibilities.

The findings are part of its #EndSalaryHistory campaign which was launched by the Fawcett Society’s East London branch after its members became increasingly concerned about this recruitment practice.

Shobaa Haridas, from East London Fawcett, who started the grassroots campaign, said: “Closing the gender pay gap has often been framed as an individual endeavour with calls for women to negotiate better or having employees undergo unconscious bias training.

“But this framing ignored bias baked within the system.

“We started this campaign to shine a light on this unquestioned recruitment practice.”

Meanwhile the charity’s chief executive, Jemima Olchawski, said that “asking about salary history can mean past pay discrimination follows women, people of colour, and people with disabilities throughout their career”.

She continued: “It also means new employers replicate pay gaps from other organisations.

“On Equal Pay Day we’re calling on employers to commit to closing their gender pay and to stop asking about past salaries.”

One of the companies joining the campaign is Ikea, who say the campaign is “a crucial move to prevent discrimination of underrepresented groups who far too often are paid less by employers”.

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