The Woman Pushing to Reveal the Gender Wage Gap in the UK Thinks the Shit Is About to Hit the Fan


The UK’s 2010 Equality Act has a clause stating that any company with more than 250 employees must publicly share their gender pay gap, and it comes into effect in April. The Labour party’s Harriet Harman is extremely psyched for it.

The Guardian profiled Harman and her work in pushing through legislation that will reveal pay disparities across the country. The fallout of pay transparency in the UK notably began at the BBC with journalist Carrie Gracie’s resignation after she discovered she was paid 33 percent less than male editors and had recently been offered an unequal raise. Harman says many have been quick to castigate the BBC, but their faces are gonna be red when the rest of the numbers come out:

“There’s going to be an avalanche in April. It’s going to be unbelievable. Because everybody’s going to go: ‘Bugger this’, just like Carrie. This is a really huge, structural earthquake – and now it’s all happening.” She pauses and allows herself a gleeful grin. “Usually, policies all fall apart after a while, and you think,” she winces, “‘Oh God.’ But this one is a cracker, there’s no doubt about it.”

Before Harman’s intervention, the Equality Act was only going to require companies to perform internal pay audits. She believed that anyone hired by management would tell management what they wanted to hear—that there was no problem. So, she says she went “completely bonkers” and demanded pay transparency.

“Because if people can see what’s happening in their workplace, that is going to empower people to say we’ve got to change,” Harman told the Guardian.

Harman is even looking forward to revelations about pay disparity within her own party, and says when info on the political pay gap are revealed it’s going to be “a corker.” Her general enthusiasm for the future comeuppance of her country’s job creators is delightful:

“The argument that it’s unfair has blossomed on the basis that people didn’t think they were going to have to do anything about it. People adopted the rhetoric because they felt they had impunity – because it was all undercover, if you like. Therefore, we’ve got the rhetoric very nicely developed. And now suddenly the facts are marching up to the rhetoric and tapping it on the shoulder. And it’s going to be: bang! Now it’s the day of reckoning.”

However, she has a realistic view of how difficult it will be to make changes based on this information. Harman says there’s no “magic wand” that will close the pay gap in any industry; she does have plans for pushing people to close the gap with target dates and staff turnover. It seems like a big fight is ahead, and she is very here for it. Ingest more of Harman’s go-get-it attitude here.

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