Are women given equal opportunities at north Northamptonshire councils?

Gender pay gap stock pic NNL-180216-105845001
Gender pay gap stock pic NNL-180216-105845001

Women earn £5,000 less than men on average at councils in the north of the county, it has been revealed.

The Northants Telegraph asked Corby Council, East Northants Council, Kettering Council and Wellingborough Council for their average salary for male and female employees.

Across the four councils men earn, on average, £27,724.91 a year – compared to £22,615.26 for women.

Today (Thursday) marks International Women’s Day and the Women’s Equality Party says councils must address the salary gap.

The spokesman said: “Local government has a responsibility to take a lead in dealing with the gender pay gap.

“The councils where women employees are earning significantly less than men must work out why that is happening – and what they are going to do to address it.

“To help with this, the Women’s Equality Party is calling for organisations with significant pay gaps to release further transparency data on their parental leave, childcare and flexible working policies, as well as a breakdown of who is applying, interviewed and shortlisted at each stage of the recruitment and promotion process.”

The council where women earn the least is Wellingborough Council, with women paid an average salary of £21,962.04.

That’s almost £7,000 less then men at the local authority (£28,837.62).

But a council spokesman said they firmly believe women are given the same opportunities as men and that any decision to recuit is based solely on skills.

The spokesman said: “In terms of reducing the average pay gap, all roles are job evaluated using the NJC Job Evaluation Scheme.

“This provides a rank order of roles within the organisation.

“When new roles are evaluated, or existing roles re-evaluated, they are looked at both individually and in terms of their organisational ranking to ensure that roles of a comparable nature receive similar pay, depending on the exact details of each role.

“The council is actively utilising career grade structures, where possible, to encourage those who may not be fully qualified for a role to apply and be trained/achieve the appropriate qualifications and progress into the full role.”

Despite the average pay difference, the council employs more women (seven) than men (four) who earn more than £45,000 a year.

Their chief executive, Liz Elliott, is also the only female council chief executive or leader in the north of the county.

Wellingborough Council leader Cllr Martin Griffiths added that the figures did not include Wellingborough Norse employees, who are primarily male, but did include part-time and volunteer staff from the Castle Theatre.

He said that the council directly employs 130 staff, 100 of which are female.

He said: “Six of our seven excellent senior management team are female.

“We have staff with an excellent and close team working ethic and recruit and promote on merit regardless of gender.”

East Northants Council also has an average pay gap of about £7,000 with men earning £30,919 compared to women earning £23,183.

An ENC spokesman said: “We are an equal opportunities employer.

“Women and men doing the same job or jobs of equal value get paid the same at ENC and always have done since we introduced our job evaluation and equal pay scheme more than 10 years ago.”

In Corby, the difference is just shy of £6,000.

Men earn £28,485 and women earn £22,658.

A Corby Council spokesman said: “Corby Council recognises that equality and diversity is central to how we operate.

“We are committed to providing a working environment where employees feel they are treated with dignity and fairness and where skills and experience are rewarded in accordance with transparent pay scales.

“We have family friendly policies, including flexible working that are accessible to all employees regardless of gender.”

The only council to achieve gender pay parity for its employees is Kettering Council, with both men and women earning an average of £22,658.

A spokesman for the council said it had focused on supporting gender equality and fairness.

They say they use grading structures that don’t place any emphasis on length of service and offer a flexible approach to juggling a work-life balance.

For other councils in north Northamptonshire, it is clear that there is work to be done.

The Women’s Equality Party spokesman added: “Central government has an important role to play, too, in addressing the structural imbalances that contribute to the gender pay gap, including the high cost of childcare.

“If public institutions cannot set an example on this, then what hope is there that other businesses will take it seriously?”