What’s the Gender Pay Gap in the Food Sector? - The Sterling Choice
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What’s the Gender Pay Gap in the Food Sector?

It’s been reported that the manufacturing sector has one of the largest gaps at 22%, including the food industry, and this has been down to the lack of young girls pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths.)

In the food industry, the gap fluctuates between roles; for instance, for production and process engineers, where women hold 12% of all roles, the gender pay gap is 4%.

In product development roles, the percentage of women increases to 33% as does the gap – to 6.6%.

Further up the scale the wage gap in routine inspectors and testers is 19.4%, of which women hold 30% of the positions and right at the top is production technicians, despite 24% of the jobs being filled by women, the gender wage gap is 19.9%. In these roles, men earn, on average just shy of £30,000, while women earn less than £21,000.

Of course, as firms begin to publish their gender pay gap figures, we will get a true picture of exactly how the industry stacks up against others.

When we get to food retailer level, there have been several high-profile cases to learn from; Asda was hit with a landmark tribunal case that allowed 7,000 female staff to proceed with their claims for equal pay because when compared to roles of equal value, they are paid less than their male counterparts.

A similar case arose with Sainsbury’s, with around 400 female staff claiming that they too are paid less than their male co-workers.

When you consider that 70% of household purchasing power lies with women, surely it makes sense to have a board that reflects the customer base that your brand wants to engage with.

Research has proven that companies with an equal proportion of women and men on their executive boards perform better by around 3%, it has also been reported that businesses with women on the board are less likely to go bankrupt.

With Britain’s food sector potentially facing increased competition as the Brexit negotiations continue – it would make sense to take these figures into account and undertake the necessary actions to secure the longevity and profitability of Britain’s food suppliers and manufacturers.

It was already predicted at the beginning of the year that products from Africa were going to explode in the UK consumer market, with 2016 seeing a 41% increase in products using African ingredients.

The media has been full of stories detailing possible imports from US farmer’s and manufacturers.

We have made no secret of the fact that the industry needs to change in order to attract the next generation of employees, and perhaps a focus also needs to be placed on making the industry an attractive option for female employees; a starting block for this is to ensure they will be rewarded equally to their male colleagues.

Career progression and casting aside the ‘old boys network’ are also elements that will attract females, who want to be assured that they will be provided with not only the same wage, but the same career opportunities and chance to rise through the ranks – as mentioned, something that will benefit both the employee and the business.

With FMCG and food brands strategically targeting products at women and children, it seems crystal clear that making a conscious effort to prove their worth by offering equal pay within the business isn’t not only morally right, it makes good business sense. As mentioned, we are yet to see how each food and FMCG business fares, but we expect there will be many new opportunities arise for women in the sectors as a result.


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