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Khan takes first steps against gender pay gap

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sadiq khan, mayor of london, gender pay gap audit, PrideHopefully similar positive steps will be taken UK-wide in the weeks and months to come.

The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has been living up to his promise to be a “proud feminist” at City Hall.

Sadiq Khan has been in office as the Mayor of London barely three months, but he is already leading the way in trying to achieve gender equality in the workplace.

During his campaign to replace Boris Johnson as the Mayor of London earlier this year, Khan put gender equality and the safety of women and girls at the centre of his manifesto.

He pledged that closing the pay gap between men and women would be a priority for him and that he wanted to increase police presence on public transport in the capital to help tackle sexual harassment and assault.

Refreshingly, Khan is already making good his promises, and last month he published City Hall’s first-ever gender pay gap audit.

The audit found that there was a pay gap of 4.6 per cent at City Hall, with women working full-time earning an average of £21.40 an hour compared to their male counterparts’ average wage of £22.44.

While more than half of City’s Hall workforce is comprised of women, and two fifths of employees being paid £60,000 or more are female, less than a third of those earning more than £100,000 in March 2016 – before Khan became mayor – were women.

Khan wants other employers in the capital to follow suit and commit to closing the gender pay gap, which falls at 12 per cent for full-time workers in London and 23 per cent overall.

For women to be earning almost a quarter less than men in 2016 is an outrage, especially when the cost of living in London continues to rise to obscene amounts, and Khan is right to make tackling this a priority.

As he said, “it is unacceptable that in London, one of the world’s greatest and most progressive cities, someone’s pay and career prospects can still be defined by their gender”.

As part of his strategy, the mayor has launched an action plan for full pay equality throughout the Greater London Authority (GLA), which includes Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police Service, who are expected to undertake their own audits like that carried out by City Hall.

Khan said: “I have vowed to be a proud feminist at City Hall, and I am determined to make the GLA a model employer that removes any barriers to women by adopting the highest possible standards for fair pay, good working conditions and gender equality.”

Within City Hall there are plans to increase part-time and flexible-working options and to offer help with career progression, as well as mentoring, career-support programmes and sponsorship for qualifications.

Managers are also going to be trained to make sure the recruitment process is as fair and non-discriminatory as possible and will be trying out ‘no-name’ application forms.

The leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Sophie Walker, made a good point however when she pointed out that Khan’s plans to close the gender pay gap couldn’t be wholly effective unless something was done about providing affordable childcare.

The cost of childcare is an increasing problem throughout the UK and is a real problem for both parents and single parents nowadays, so hopefully Khan will take Walker’s comments on board and act on this issue too.

Khan has also expressed his support for, and dedication to, the LGBT+ community in London since he was elected.

Former Mayor Boris Johnson absented himself from the capital’s Pride march for the last five years of his time at City Hall, but Khan pledged to review the Mayor of London’s role in leading the parade, and duly carried out this promise.

Khan also wants London’s police force to include transgender officers.

And he plans to implement gender-neutral toilets.

He said: “Identity is an area that is evolving and developing, so I think you should respect people’s right to choose how they want to be identified.”

A Mayor of London who prioritises disadvantaged groups such as women and the LGBT+ community is a long-awaited breath of fresh air, particularly in light of the current hostile and unstable wider political sphere.

Khan’s actions and policies are a smart example to employers and society in general, and hopefully we will see similar positive steps being taken throughout the UK in the weeks and months to come.

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