Gender pay gaps discourage teenagers from taking jobs

Ahead of this Thursday’s Equal Pay Day (after which the gender pay gap effectively means women work the rest of the year unpaid), a poll by job site, Indeed, reveals nearly half (48%) of teenage girls say they would consider refusing to work for an employer with a gender pay gap.

This headline finding revealed startling strength of feeling among young people today – and among boys as well as girls.

Overall, 40% of young people said they would rule out working for an organisation with a gender pay gap, with this being 48% for girls and 33% for boys.

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The poll found girls were more likely to research an employer's gender pay gap (55%) than boys (34%), but nearly two-thirds (61%) of both boys and girls said pay gaps were “unfair”.

Amanda Lennon, partner in employment at law firm Spencer West, and HR director at Astralis HR, said: “This is a great example of how the youngest generation sees the world of work. Whereas in my day, you would feel almost privileged if a company chose you to work for them, now the boot is on the other foot.

“Young people are much clearer on the sorts of boundaries they expect, and what they are willing to find acceptable. Although there is a regulatory framework for firms with more than 250 staff to provide gender pay reports, I think it is this sort of strength of feeling that will have more of a difference in terms of reducing gender pay gaps.”

In another surprise finding, the research suggests young people are not yet aware of the potential power they have.

The research revealed that while strength of feeling is high, young people are more disillusioned than their older peers, and feel much less positive that any real improvements to gender pay gaps will happen soon.

The data found teenagers predict the gender pay gap will take 20 years to disappear, compared with the 13 years that their older counterparts said. In addition to this, just 5% of teenagers said they were “hopeful” of closing the gender pay gap.

One finding though was crystal clear: young women in particular still lack confidence to ask for pay rises, something that would help reduce pay gaps.

It found that while 61% of male teenagers said they would feel confident asking for a raise at a future workplace, just 46% of girls said they would.

In addition, just 29% of boys say they would not feel confident asking for a pay rise, compared to 41% of girls.

Sophi Berridge, senior campaigns officer at The Equality Trust said:Our own work with young people for our Employment Rights School Resources research project revealed that pay injustice is an increasingly important determinant for young people when considering which roles to apply for in the labour market.

“Canny employers should bear in mind that if they want to attract a diverse pool of talent, they should scrutinise their policies and practices for examples of pay inequality and address them.”