Men taking pay cuts like EasyJet CEO doesn't solve the pay gap

Men taking salary cuts doesn’t solve the pay gap

“At easyJet we are absolutely committed to giving equal pay and equal opportunity for women and men. I want that to apply to everybody at easyJet and to show my personal commitment I have asked the board to reduce my pay to match that of Carolyn’s when she was at easyJet.”

These are the words of easyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren, who took over the position in December last year from Carolyn McCall. He has voluntarily taken a £34,000 pay cut to match the salary his predecessor earned.

Isn’t that extraordinary? Not the fact he’s willing to shave something off his own salary, though that’s not nothing, but the fact a listed company with a lamentable, known gender pay gap would pay two leaders so differently.

Lundgren was initially offered £740,000 as his annual base when he commenced, while McCall was earning £706,000. His remuneration package was reportedly otherwise identical to McCall’s at the time.

McCall was considered extremely successful for the seven years she led the budget airline. She was poached to take up the CEO position at ITV, which makes her one of the most powerful women in TV in Britain and one of only 8 women to lead a FTSE100 company.

Curiously McCall’s base salary at ITV is £41,000 less than her predecessor Adam Crozier earned, and her pension has been reduced to 15% of her salary compared with his 25%. Despite this the broadcaster has said that with performance bonuses, it is likely her overall earnings will exceed his.

But both scenarios make clear that the disparity between men and women’s pay is far from a false perception.

At easyJet the percentage difference between average male and female pay is 51.7%. FIFTY ONE POINT SEVEN.

The fact 94% of pilots, who earn a lot more than the mostly-female cabin crew and other employees, are male explains the chasm. Among commercial pilots worldwide only 4% are female so this isn’t exclusively an issue of EasyJet’s own making and it has introduced a target that a fifth of all new pilots recruited should be female by 2020.

In addition to explaining his decision to dock his own pay, Lundgren made clear this target needs exceeding.

“I also want to affirm my own commitment to address the gender imbalance in our pilot community which drives our overall gender pay gap,” he said.  “I want us not just to hit our target that 20% of our new pilots should be female by 2020 but to go further than this in the future.”

This story was reported on the same day that a group of 170 females from the BBC have demanded an apology, back pay and adjustments in relation to the gender pay gap at the public broadcaster.

It’s reported that the BBC Women campaign group has submitted evidence to the influential digital, culture, media and sport committee that demonstrates the corporation’s failure to ensure equal pay.

Fourteen women, thirteen of whom spoke anonymously, have provided specific  examples of their various attempts to secure pay equity and it makes for despairing reading material.

“The line manager told me ‘The BBC doesn’t do equal pay’,” a national presenter explained. She was also described as “aggressive” for asking.

A news presenter discovered via the publication of a ‘Talent List’ in July 2017 that she was paid hundreds of thousands less than some of her colleagues. “I am also paid £45,000 less than my immediate male predecessor. No one has explained to me how such a discrepancy can be justified.”

Another national radio presenter said this: “I have worked alongside my male co-host for six years so far and for all that time have been paid at one-third of the rate he is paid. We work broadly the same hours with equal production input into the programme. I raised a pay query in autumn 2016 only to be told there was no issue. Pay revised July 2017. Case still subject to negotiation and part of NUJ collective grievance.”

A national broadcaster was offered a 65% pay rise “whilst also being told that the BBC is ‘satisfied there was no issue of equal pay’ in my case. In pay terms this offer would bring me in line with the lowest paid of the presenters who work on the same programme as I do”.

Some male presenters at the BBC have offered to cut their own earnings to achieve gender equality. Like EasyJet’s Lundgren, it’s admirable but it doesn’t address the real problem which is the fact women have been, and are, paid less for the same work as their male peers. It ought to beggar belief but it doesn’t.

At least the evidence is mounting: the ridiculous argument that the pay gap isn’t real but rather a reflection of the choices women make is getting weaker by the minute.

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