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Gender pay gap 'to close in a generation' says PM

New rules to force large firms to reveal what they pay male and female employees will “close the pay gap in a generation”, prime minister David Cameron said today.

Cameron announced plans to put pressure on companies with more than 250 employees to reveal wage discrepancies between men and women. The current pay gap is 19.1%, meaning women are paid the equivalent of 80p for every £1 paid to a man.

The policy is expected to come into force in the first half of next year.

“It will help close the gender pay gap. But we need to go further, and that’s why introducing gender pay audits is so important,” Cameron said in The Times today. He hopes the rules on reporting pay “will cast sunlight on the discrepancies and create the pressure we need for change, driving women’s wages up”.

Cameron said the plans tie in with the new living wage for over 25s of £7.20 an hour, to rise by £9 by 2020, announced in the budget, which he said will “primarily help women, who tend to be in lower paid jobs”.

However, recruitment experts said it was unlikely to have a big impact on fashion retail.

Moira Benigson, founder of executive search firm The MBS Group, said: “I don’t think the gender pay gap is as bad in the fashion industry as perhaps it is in others – I think the issue is more about how you get women in their mid-careers to power ahead into those top positions.

“I wonder if it is a bit of a red herring to take away emphasis from the living wage, which will have huge consequences for companies.”

Shelley Pinto, managing director of luxury fashion retail and production recruitment firm TRP, said: “In our industry at a certain level, say for store manager, designer or technologist roles between £25,000 and £80,000-ish, you don’t see a pay gap in my experience.

“It could be more of an issue at board level perhaps, although I haven’t come across it, but it could also be to do with other issues such as women not going for those jobs or pushing for the very best packages.

“Generally, I find that our industry is quite female-orientated and companies want the best candidate for the job, so they will get paid the same regardless of gender.”


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