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School of Business and Management

Equal Pay at 50 - Making equal and fair pay a reality

5 November 2019

Time: 11:00am - 5:00pm
Venue: Queen Mary University of London Mile End Road Bancroft Building - 4th Floor London E1 4NS

2020 marks 50 years since the UK’s Equal Pay Act (1970) passed; 45 years since the European Community’s Equal Pay Directive (75/117/EEC) enshrined the principle of equal value and 100 years since the International Labour Organization (ILO) first stated the principle of equal remuneration for women and men[i]. Yet the gender pay gap (GPG) has been resilient in the UK and internationally and the gap between those who run organisation and the average pay of their workers has got increasingly wider. While we now understand a range of explanations for unfair pay, including gender and ethnic segregation; human capital; workplace practices and processes, the limitations of the law and of course discrimination, many of these explanations remain as relevant today as 50 years ago. It is still the case that these reasons are as relevant today as 50 years ago and that they continue to fundamentally challenge genuine and sustained reform.

Nevertheless, there has been a shift to promoting greater transparency to combat the gender pay gap through both voluntary and regulative approaches. The context of the convention that it is somehow impolite to talking about pay has been a potential barrier to change. However, governments are increasingly regulating transparency with the intention of narrowing the gender pay gap. In 2017, the UK introduced annual mandatory gender pay gap reporting for companies of 250+ employees and, after two annual rounds of reporting, it is clear that for some organisations transparency is not sufficient and further radical change needs to take place. Equally, the UK Government’s Women and Equality Committee is arguing for further changes with respect to Enforcing the Equality Act. We are also seeing greater concern expressed at the lack of information and action on the ethnicity pay gap[ii] including a Government consultation on ethnicity pay reporting.[iii] A further challenge will lie in understanding the intersectional nature of unequal pay. Our event will engage with these and other issues relevant to making equal and fair pay a reality.

We have a great range of speakers already confirmed from academia, business, unions and equality organisations who will provide insight into the context of unequal pay, strategies that have been successful and strategies that have failed, and the barriers navigated to progress equal pay. Carrie Gracie (BBC) and Professor Liz Schafer (RHUL), will be speaking on their personal experiences of fighting for equal pay. Insights on the equal pay context and strategies and practices for closing the pay gaps will be shared by speakers from a number of organisations including Business in the Community (Sandra Kerr), PwC (Anne Hurst), Equality Trust (Dr Wanda Wyporska), UnitetheUnion (Diana Holland), EHRC (tbc) and academics (Professor Jeff Frank, Dr Cecile Guillaume and Emily Pfefer). Do join us and share your experience to what is bound to be a stimulating and interactive day that will make a real contribution to ‘Making equal and fair pay a reality’. This event will provide the opportunity to share ideas on how change might take place in multiple arenas in order to affect fair and equal pay and build a strategic way forward. It will also be an opportunity to share and transfer ideas across sectors and contexts.

If you are interested in contributing, we'd be delighted to hear from you with your area of interest. Just email Emily Pfefer ( Healy (

Who should attend? Academics, diversity specialists, policy makers, employers, trade unions, consultants, shareholders, third sector groups working on gender and intersectional pay gaps, living wage and students interested in reward in their careers. The diversity of participant roles will ensure that this is a lively, interactive event committed to moving forward with respect to pay equality and provide an ideal opportunity for delegates to network and work together for change.

The event is sponsored by the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity (CRED), Queen Mary University of London. Organised by CRED and in partnership with The Equality Trust.

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