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Gender Pay Inequity and Britain’s Finance Sector
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The gender pay gap is economically irrational and yet stubbornly persistent.

Focusing on the UK finance industry which is known for its gender pay disparity, this book explores the initiatives to fix gendered inequities in the workplace. Rachel Verdin crafts a unique framework, weaving extensive organizational data with women's lived experiences. Interviews uncover gaps in pay transparency, obstacles hindering workplace policies and the factors that are stalling progress for the future.

This is an invaluable resource that offers key insights into gender equality and EDI measures shaped by legal regulations as well as corporate-driven initiatives.

Open access
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This second chapter in the three-part stream of qualitative analysis examines the career paths of the women interviewed. Women working in various parts of the finance sector reflected on the myriad of factors impacting their decision making and the challenge of reconciling work and family life. This assessment reinforces how gender identities, derived from both the workplace and the home, impede efforts to reduce existing inequalities. The value ascribed to typified female characteristics, gendered networking environments and the reproduction of existing power structures help to contextualize ongoing gender pay inequities. The interview data is then assessed according to the architectures model. The shifting resonance of economic and sociological explanations for the gender pay gap helps underline the perpetual dynamism in the architectures model.

Open access
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Conclusions are drawn in Chapter 8 concerning: how the pay gap is experienced; what awareness employees have of the legislative entitlements afforded to them; and the interrelationship of factors impacting on this decades old problem. Application of the architectures model to the wicked problem of the gender pay gap helps highlight the effectiveness and limitations of legislation and organizational approaches to gender pay inequity. Two key findings are presented from this examination. First, the utility of this approach reveals how common blind spots, such as the thorny issues of transparency and accountability, remain central to the persistence of the gap. Second, the dynamism in the architectures of inequality model demonstrates how the impediments to alleviating the gap are in constant flux, exerting continual pressures on any potential progress. By observing these interactions and paying close attention to the data, best practice can be identified. Within this model, the slow movement of legislative development suggests eradicating the gender pay gap is an elusive legal ambition; at the same time, the organizational dimension currently offers the most likely potential for traction.

Open access
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The Gender Pay Reporting Regulations, introduced in 2017, mark an improved approach to transparency in Britain’s evolving legal framework. This chapter examines the first six years of largely untapped quantitative data for a sample of finance sector firms, given the particularly high pay gaps therein. We see how institutional and organizational frameworks are discreet and yet interact, revealing the strength of architectural foundations. This serves as a critique of the Regulations and the limited potential afforded by increased institutional and organizational focus on the problem. Assessment of accompanying narratives demonstrates notable areas of contestation within this interaction. This shows how a lack of transparency and preference for voluntarist approaches to governance combine to keep inequalities hidden in plain sight. This helps illustrate how organizational HRM trends impact at the meso level, contributing to the stalling of progress.

Open access
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Progress towards eradicating Britain’s gender pay gap is slow and stalled. This chapter introduces the moral, legal and economic imperatives for resolving the problem, and outlines the research questions addressed in this volume. The finance sector is proposed as a relevant and apposite case study within which to examine the first six years of gender pay reporting data. The different explanatory perspectives on gender pay inequity are outlined and used to construct the architectures of inequality model. As a new conceptual tool, this model provides the groundwork for later chapters to develop. This demonstrates how while legal and organizational reforms are continuously built upon, underlying foundational principles reinforce inequality. This analysis helps shed light on the contradictions of transparency that surround this decades old problem, insulating it from change.

Open access
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The thematic interview analysis concludes in Chapter 7 as women working in the finance industry consider the impact of organizational policy: does it walk the talk, or do women experience these efforts as merely window dressing? Interviewees discussed promotion and flexibility policies, acknowledging areas of both progress and resistance. This illustrates how attitudes in different parts of the sector and the cross-national perspectives of some global finance firms on British equality requirements contribute to the persistence of gender pay gaps. While trade union membership may be limited, interviewees described how the role of unions and social movements still holds some potency to drive change within the workplace. This reveals the interface between the institutional and organizational perspectives in the architectures of inequality, and the pivotal role of firms in understanding gender pay inequity.

Open access
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Qualitative interviews with women working in a range of roles for a variety of finance firms reveal their lived experiences of both legal institutions and commercial organizations at the micro level. The key topics discussed are thematized in this three-part stream of analysis, focussing in this chapter on pay and bonus. Shrouded in secrecy, the culture of silence that surrounds remuneration limits women’s capacity to appropriately position themselves at the point of job change and when negotiating uplifts. Critically, interviewees describe how a broad lack of transparency restricts their ability to challenge pay inequities. Participant reflections on pay reporting and voluntarist requirements further illustrate the practical constraints experienced around both hard and soft law approaches. The analysis reveals how the macro-level institutional architecture is experienced within the workplace. This shows how rights at work and women’s voices are inhibited by pay systems and the lived reality of legislative entitlements.

Open access
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The passing of the Equal Pay Act 1970 was a watershed moment. The gradual extension of equality law since that point is presented here in the first part of a two-part phased legal analysis. The macro-level institutional component of the architectures model is constructed by charting the historical development of the law, related to gender pay inequity. The legal research incorporates an analytic periodization and evaluation of statute and case law, alongside a socio-legal feminist analysis. Ongoing movement and tensions in the conceptualization of equality demonstrate how unequal foundations continually undermine the potential for progress. This assessment is complemented by a parallel assessment of change within the finance sector, demonstrating the distinct yet interrelated nature of developments within the industry.

Open access
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The conceptualization of equality shifted with the passing of the Equality Act 2010. This second part of a two-part periodized legal analysis highlights transformative developments contained within the Act. These are contrasted with factors that have impeded their implementation and effectiveness. This macro-level institutional assessment positions legal arrangements as a component part of the architectures model, within which inequalities are seemingly insulated from change. Just as institutional approaches struggle to eradicate the problem, the relationship with other elements in the social subsystem helps illuminate why progress remains so slow. Regulatory change and technological innovations within the finance sector provide an illustrative backdrop for understanding these tensions.

Open access

This chapter situates the book within existing knowledge of intersectionality, and more specifically within knowledge of intersectionality’s operationalization. The latter is discussed in distinct and yet related fields of practice (public policy, social movements and the NGO sector), as well as key ‘issues in practice’ which are particularly relevant to the study of intersectionality in the NGO sector: representation, and coalition and solidarity. The chapter provides a rationale for the research, one motivation for which is that there is debate about what intersectionality is and means among scholars, suggesting that there is no one agreed meaning among practitioners either. Gaps in knowledge are identified, including intersectionality’s operationalization in the NGO sector, in the UK context, and how practitioners themselves understand intersectionality. Key debates within intersectionality studies are utilized to establish the parameters of how intersectionality is employed as a framework throughout the book.

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