The U.K. Just Took A Major Step Toward Helping Women Get Paid More

Photographed by Rachel Cabitt.
In an effort to close its gender wage gap, which closely resembles that of the United States, the U.K. is now requiring companies with at least 250 employees to publish their salary data.
These businesses — which represent about half of the U.K.'s workforce, at 15 million people and 9,000 companies — have a year to do so, reports Fortune. They will be required to disclose their mean and median gender pay gaps, their pay gap for bonuses, and the proportion of men and women in each quartile of their pay structure.
The government says this new initiative "will help employers to identify the gaps in their organizations and take action to close the gender gap." However, the policy is already being criticized for not requiring companies to actually do anything about the inequality — or even explain it.
Proponents say this "naming and shaming" tactic can be effective because many companies don't want to appear less progressive than their competition.
"Reputation is power," Allyson Zimmerman, executive director at Catalyst Europe, a nonprofit that focuses on workplace inclusivity, told Fortune. "Companies will want to be seen as an employer of choice; one who gives fair pay for work and a job well done."
This may be true, but we're strongly in the "do the most" camp here. While the U.K. initiative may prove effective in certain ways, it's not actually requiring companies to pay women more. Iceland, on the other hand, recently took a different approach to fighting wage inequality by becoming the first country to introduce legislation requiring employers to prove they're paying men and women equally. Those who discriminate would face fines. While Iceland is already one of the most gender-equal countries in terms of pay, women there still only earn between 14% and 18% less than men, and it's attempting to correct this by 2022.
Donald Trump, in stark contrast to our friends across the pond, recently rolled back Obama-era equal-pay protections. Last week, he signed an executive order that revoked the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, which President Barack Obama created in 2014 to ensure that businesses that receive federal contracts abide by labor and civil rights laws. The order included rules on wage transparency and barring "forced arbitration" (i.e. cover-up) clauses for sexual harassment cases. He signed this order on Equal Pay Day.
It’s 2017, and yet women are still fighting for equality. Data suggests it will take until 2152 to close the gender wage gap, but it shouldn’t take a century to get what we want. We want more, and Refinery29 is here to help — because 135 years is too long to wait for what we deserve today.

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