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It’s time to step up the pressure for equal pay

Emily Booth
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The gender pay gap is in the national spotlight, now we need positive action to improve the figures, writes Emily Booth

This year’s Working in Architecture survey, in association with the Women in Architecture programme and campaign, focuses on the crucial issue of pay. More than 3,000 professionals responded to our survey – a fantastic number which demonstrates the level of engagement on this critical topic.

So what’s the picture? Our analysis shows the extent to which the gender pay gap has come into the national spotlight following the government’s 2017 legislation requiring all companies with more than 250 employees to report their pay gap data.

Overwhelmingly, the architecture profession supports the measure (82 per cent of respondents backed the policy), even if there are some data wrinkles that need to be ironed out. Feedback suggests it has been a spur to an important discussion about pay: senior executives and managers have been forced to address it.

The notion that women don’t speak up about their pay is wrong

While the pay gap remains, and some perceptions about it are stubbornly persistent (more than half of male respondents said they thought men and women were paid equally), our survey shows there are some bright spots. For example, the pay gap been men and women at architect level has narrowed somewhat.

The survey also busts some myths. It turns out that, in general, women negotiate as well – and as often – as men in terms of their pay. The notion that women don’t speak up about their pay is wrong. But if women start out from a lower financial base, the same percentage increase will mean they still end up being paid less over the course of a career.

We were keen to poll on positive action that firms can take to improve their gender pay gap figures. Among a range of effective actions, those that garnered significant support included: multiple women in interview shortlists, using structured interviews for recruitment and promotions and – yes, introducing transparency to promotion, pay and reward processes.

There was considerable backing for ‘average salaries by role’ to be revealed to employees. People may be coy about full pay transparency, but perhaps average numbers are the way to break that spell of secrecy. And if you run a company of fewer than 250 employees and would like to share your gender pay gap stats, please get in touch. As we track this year’s pay gap reporting, which runs until 4 April, we’d be happy to share learnings from the smaller firms within the profession who are minding their gender pay gap.

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