Mind the Gap Millennials!

My millennial daughter took me to task on equal pay recently, when I took on a new role without negotiating on the salary. “Why do your generation just accept things so easily,” she said. I pointed to Carrie Gracie, standing up for her right to be paid the same as men at the BBC.  She’s my age, I think and not accepting anything easily. And as for negotiating salary, I imagine the fall out from the BBC will have many HR departments worriedly checking their pay gaps. The view from some “Millennials” though is that, for their generation, the pay gap is old news.  Support for this viewpoint came originally from a survey completed by living standards think-tank, the Resolution Foundation. This initially seemed to show that for millennial women the gap is half that experienced by the previous generation.

The research looked at the typical hourly pay of different generations of women, from as far back as people born between 1911 and 1925, tracking it over the course of their careers and comparing it to that of their male counterparts. 

The results showed that the gap for my generation (Generation X) stands at 9 percent as oppose to 5 percent for the Millennials (my daughter).

The Institute for Fiscal Studies however contradicts this, suggesting that the gender pay gap for UK graduates is as bad as it was 20 years ago. According to their research, the gender wage gap has only continued to shrink over the past two decades among the lowest-educated individuals born between 1981 and 2000. 

Sam Smethers, chief executive of Fawcett Society says that the number of women in the workforce who are graduate-educated overtook men in the mid-'90s, which she believes means that the pay gap should be much smaller.

"Millennial women overall are earning more relative to men than previous cohorts of younger women because more of them are graduates. But the gap soon opens up," Smethers continued.

Look a bit further into the Resolution Foundation research and this is backed up, showing that for generation X, the gap went up to 10 percent at age 30 (and then 25 percent at age 40.) For millennial women, their pay gap rises dramatically from 5 to 9 percent when women reach the age of 30, just one percent less than for generation X women. 

The report states that this persistent gap suggests "the old challenges associated with having children" still endure for young women today. 

"Young women today face relatively little disadvantage in terms of their pay packets compared to what their parents’ and grandparents’ generation faced," Laura Gardiner — senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation — said.

"But while many millennial women haven't experienced much of a pay gap yet, most probably will once they reach their 30s, when they start having children," Gardiner continues. 

Smethers agrees: “The gender pay gap grows over women’s working lives, particularly impacted by the point when women have children.”

So what can we do? Well the starting point is to look at when this gap opens up and what can be done about it. Progressive working policies and practices are key.

Contact us at Margaret Martin to review your working practices and mind your gap!

Margaret Cheng

Senior Consultant

Margaret Martin Associates Ltd

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