Government supports pay transparency and STEM returners

UK minister for women, Deborah Stedman-Scott, has today announced two new initiatives to help improve women’s equality in the workplace: a pledge to advocate for pay transparency in job adverts, and measures to help women return to STEM careers after a period of absence.

In a bid to close gender pay gaps, the government will develop a way to help employers establish and publish salary ranges for all roles in their organisation. It will then go to a pilot group of companies before being rolled out elsewhere.

Increasing pay transparency, said Stedman-Scott, can really help women to close the pay gap.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Research shows that vague salary information on job adverts typically results in lower starting salaries and smaller pay rises for women and marginalised groups.”

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One 2020 study of experiments with pay-transparent job adverts in the university sector saw the pay gap fall by 12%.

Stedman-Scott added: “We hope [the scheme] will result in employers getting really good applications from hugely talented women to join their workforce.”

Government will also encourage employers to stop asking candidates for their salary history at interview, as it has been shown to entrench pay disparities between men and women, and white people and their peers from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In its STEM ‘returner’ scheme, the government hopes to encourage women trained in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics back into the workforce after, for example, taking time out for childcare.

Stedman-Scott highlighted the challenges of returning to work after long periods.

She said: “You can’t be out of the market for (let’s say) five years in the STEM world and expect to just pick it up in a day – but we can help them refresh their skills.”

The returner scheme will work with employers to find in demand skills and will help candidates develop and work towards those opportunities, through CV editing and interview workshops. 

Stedman-Scott added that employers would see a real benefit from the experience brought by returning workers, and plug crucial skills gaps.

She said: “I absolutely think there is an intergenerational benefit from having a very highly motivated and different age workforce.

“If we can find people that have the skills that [employers] are looking for, then I think we’ll be doing employers a great service. 

“I see it as my job, with my colleagues, to do all we can to help [employers] fill those vacancies.”