For this week’s blog article we are looking deeper into an issue that affects many working citizens in the UK: gender equality. Now, in 2014 the UK still suffers from a fair amount of inequality between men and women in industry. Current arguments particularly involve working salaries and job opportunities, proposing that there are unfair differences. Women won the right to vote back in 1916-1917 and now have more power in the workplace than ever before –is this enough?
Money makes the world go round. The work we do as citizens pays our bills, feeds us and keeps a roof over our heads and dictates the lifestyle that we can afford; we simply cannot live without it. With this in mind, let us ask you a question: if you discovered that your colleague of the opposite gender who has the same responsibilities as you is being paid more, how would you feel? A bit annoyed, right?
So is there a difference in salary between men and women in the hospitality industry? Using an online salary checker we searched for the average salary of a male waiter and a female waitress in London. What we found out was quite a shocker. The average salary for a waiter came up as £20,768 annually, though the results for a waitress showed as just over £14,600. We are aware that this average was calculated from a sample of waiting staff and is probably not 100% accurate, though the huge difference in pay is evident nonetheless. The Office of National Statistics has also shown that even after 40 years from when the Equal Pay Act began, the gap is still wide. There could be many reasons explaining the £6,000 space and it is unlikely that it is caused simply by discrimination. It could be determined by the fact that there are more women working part time due to looking after a family and so the father/husband earns more in order to provide for the household. It could also be that there are not enough flexible roles for motherhood. Fortunately, for the ladies working or looking to work in the hospitality industry, the job opportunities are plentiful and overall, women account for around 60% of the hospitality workforce.
This leads onto another considerable problem faced by the industry which is the level of responsibility and leadership that these 60% of women have or want to have in the future. It is said that there are far fewer women in higher working positions and they do not have as much opportunity to progress in their career as men do. You may or may not recognise the new ‘HeForShe’ campaign that is being fought by Harry Potter star, Emma Watson, who wants equal opportunities and power for women. Watson is a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, encouraging men to advocate gender equality and contesting for more women as political leaders in the UK. Another important message that Watson aims to convey is that feminism, or wanting more rights/opportunities for women does not mean that women dislike men and want to fight against them for rights. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly in the workplace and everyone has the right to say so if they feel they are not. Could this campaign succeed in bringing more equality? If so, it could be that we will be seeing many more female leaders, particularly in the hospitality sector.
Women 1st is an initiative with the intention of making available to women more senior roles in the tourism and visitor economy sector, as they reveal that just a tiny 6% of board-level directors are female. Women 1st argues that there are many undiscovered talented women with the confidence and ability to take on a senior role that are not getting an equal opportunity. Their ultimate mission is “to have one female candidate on the long list for every board or executive team position by 2017” and this is to be achieved through consultancy, training, mentoring, events and more.
These two powerful campaigns could propose promising futures for professional women who seek more responsibility and money in their working role. For the men reading this, please don’t think that women hate you or that they are trying to steal your jobs; they are simply looking for more equality in industry so that they can further develop alongside their male colleagues.
What are your thoughts and opinions on this matter? Do you agree or disagree with the issues mentioned? Do you know of examples of unequal pay or promotion opportunities? Discrimination can work both ways – do you know of examples where women are paid more than their male colleagues for the same work? Please feel free to leave comments.