The gender pay gap in manufacturing will end in 2085

Posted on 14 Mar 2023 by The Manufacturer

New research has revealed it will take an estimated 62 years to close the gender pay gap in the manufacturing industry. The data, from PWC and analysed by manufacturer MSP, also found that it will take at least 33 years for women’s participation rate in the labour force to catch up to men’s current participation rate of 80%.

MSP found in their new whitepaper ‘Women in Manufacturing: State of the Industry 2023’, that the disruption to earnings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as critical organisational barriers, have acted as blockers to industry progression in gender equality.

The research found the gender pay gap is also causing a serious effect on savings this year, with women across the UK saving a third less than their male counterparts, while almost 1 in 5 female workers did not see a salary increase in the past year.

Emily Smith, Senior Sales Engineer at MSP, observed: “The gender pay gap is a major barrier in the recruitment and progression of women within the manufacturing industry. As a result, it is leaving women at an enormous disadvantage while continuing to promote a shrinking pipeline of talent, as skilled workers seek better-paid opportunities elsewhere.”

“In the absence of clear progression and improved systems for advancement to senior roles and higher pay grades, future talent will continue to be discouraged and remain at a severe disadvantage within the industry.”

ONS figures placed manufacturing vacancies at an all-time high last year. During this period, progression to gender equality has been increasingly blocked by organisation barriers within recruitment, promotion, and pay negotiation, which traditionally has had a lack of transparency and informality.

In the 2020-2021 period, there was a reported average difference of 36% in the mean bonus payments paid to men and women in the manufacturing industry in the UK. To that, eight manufacturers reported a 100% difference in mean bonus pay, meaning that no women in their employment received a bonus.

While the pandemic in 2020 caused severe disruption to earnings across all industries, the gender pay gap has been steadily declining over the last decade.

Yet, current ONS data shows a gender pay gap of 12.8% for production managers and directors in manufacturing, with men, highlighting the pay disparity within more senior roles.

Emily advised: “Greater gender diversity is essential for improving talent attraction and retention, and continued investment in this can lead to manufacturers benefiting from a greater range of innovative ideas and insights from a more varied workforce.”

“As a first step, manufacturers should be outlining clear targets and steps to improve diversity and inclusion within the workplace, adopting an informed approach to ensure that gender parity is a priority target for the business.”

MSP highlights examples of initiatives manufacturers could adopt, including a company-wide layered strategy, complete with training for staff members, mentoring schemes, and individualised career development routes with jointly agreed progression targets.

Emily continued: “The hiring process is just as critical, as business leaders should be taking the opportunity to promote examples of gender inclusivity initiatives in place, recognising and promoting female leaders within their workplace, and recognising the importance of transparency and inclusivity when recruiting.”

MSP also recommends manufacturers invest in training, introducing workshops and training programmes for management to enable leaders to build towards a more inclusive environment and identify and pinpoint areas for improvement and progression.

Emily commented: “What is most crucial for the industry is that manufacturers are being transparent and raising the conversation around pay to help tackle the gender pay gap.

“Manufacturers must be increasingly taking the right steps to further the progression of gender parity, enabling equal and visible opportunities to be available for women across the industry as a whole.

“Otherwise, this continued lack of progression will impede the industry’s future profitability and output for the UK.”

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